Books by Tom Owens

Released: March 5, 1994

An inside look at the Rodney King case, the ensuing trials, and the L.A. riots that followed, by the private detective hired by King's attorney to investigate the police officers' conduct and provide security for the beleaguered beating victim. A former L.A. policeman, Owens does not claim to tell ``the Rodney King story,'' but rather, with the help of Hollywood writer Browning, to give ``the factual version.'' In reviewing his own 12 years on the LAPD (he's oddly vague as to dates, when he resigned and why, what he did prior to opening his agency, etc.), he contends that the violence demonstrated by the officers that night in March 1991 is systemic, and that there is a ``code of silence'' that helps ``explain the attitudes of some of the officers'' caught in the act on George Holliday's now famous videotape. One of Owens' first moves was to find and interview the two men who were with King during the beating, both of whom sustained injuries inflicted by the police. He also discovered a second videotape, this one showing reactions of onlookers in the immediate aftermath of the beating. His background checks of the four officers revealed an array of charges of abuse and misconduct. Owens believes the ``not guilty'' verdicts in the Simi Valley criminal trial, which ignited the riots, came about because the jurors were desensitized from repeated viewing of the video: ``In the end [they] simply didn't believe their eyes...they believed the beating King got was justified.'' In fact, Owens encountered that attitude among members of his own staff. His probings met opposition from his former fellow officers, with the exception of ``Blue Throat,'' an unidentified person at LAPD who provided him with daily logs, arrest reports, etc. Not an apologist for King, Owens does not view him ``as a hero'' but as ``a victim whose victimization continues.'' His opinions as a former cop are of some interest, as are his personal insight into King and the entire affair. But Owens allows amateur psychological conjecture to intrude on his day-to-day, procedural work on the case. (Eight pages b&w insert—not seen) Read full book review >