Anatomy of an Acquittal

Prosecutors thought the videotape of the brutal beating guaranteed a conviction. Instead it provided a reason for the jury to find four policemen not guilty.

IT SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE THAT ANY jury could acquit the four officers who were accused of beating Rodney King. How could anyone discount the brutal vision of King being clubbed and kicked on videotape for 81 unforgettable seconds? It seemed like an open-and-shut case.

In a sense it was, but not in the way most people expected. Most of the jurors appear to have made up their mind quickly that the officers were innocent. That left much of the rest of the country wondering how the evidence of their own eyes could not have been sufficient for the jury in Simi Valley,...

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