Jury rules man did not assault Long Beach police officer in violent arrest

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A man who Long Beach police hit with a baton, Tasered and pepper sprayed last year was freed from jail Friday after jurors cleared him of charges that he attacked a police officer with a bicycle and violently resisted arrest.

However, the panel did convict 31-year-old Solomon Brooks on two lesser counts of misdemeanor resisting officers during the June 3, 2016 traffic stop when police pulled him over for riding without a bicycle light.

If jurors had convicted Brooks on the felonies as originally charged, he would have faced life in prison because he has a criminal record that includes two strikes.

Instead, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge immediately sentenced Brooks to a year in jail and authorities freed him within hours because he had already spent that much time behind bars awaiting trial.

“I’m ecstatic,” Brooks’ mother, Kathleen Brooks, said outside the fourth-floor Long Beach courtroom. “Every time I came up here, I thought I was taking him home. Now it’s really happening.”

Brooks and his attorney have insisted for months that he was the victim.

They repeatedly pointed to cellphone video taken by a bystander that shows two officers chasing Brooks around a car. In the footage, which the jury watched repeatedly, Brooks appears to crouch down and raise an arm as an officer swings a baton at him.

A voice yells “Don’t Tase me,” or, “Don’t hit me.”

Although the two officers involved in the arrest described other times they hit, pepper sprayed and Tasered Brooks, neither included that specific interaction in their reports, Brooks’ attorney, Meghan Blanco, pointed out during the trial.

“Do you really believe that both of them forgot about this interaction?” Blanco asked jurors as the case concluded Thursday.

Before jurors began deliberating, Deputy District Attorney Drew Harbur implored them to look beyond the video, which he compared with other footage of officers using force that has made headlines across the country.

“The question I asked you to consider is whether this case is one of those cases, whether this case is one of those headlines,” he said.

Brooks, he argued, invited the confrontation by fleeing from police and then throwing his bike at an officer when he was finally pulled over.

“If the defendant just stops his bike, he gets a verbal warning. … At worst — maybe officers are in a bad mood that day — he gets a citation,” Harbur said.