Family Defends Cop Accused of Assault

Police officer Jeremy Morse, who was videotaped punching a black teenager during an arrest, pleaded not guilty to charges related to the July 6 incident.

Morse appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court today, along with Inglewood officer, Bijan Darvish, who was charged with filing a false police report. Both men entered a not guilty plea.

Morse, a three-year veteran of the Inglewood, Calif., police force, has been charged with "assault under the color of authority," according to his attorney John D. Barnett. Bail was set at $25,000 for each officer.

Morse, who is white, was was indicted Wednesday by a Los Angeles County grand jury.

In Defense?

Morse's brother Shawn and friend Matt Jones told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America that Morse is a nice guy who's being hurt by a videotape that doesn't tell the whole story.

Shawn Morse says his brother was defending himself when he punched 16-year-old Donovan Jackson.

"It's obvious from the video, you can see that the suspect, Donovan Jackson, reaches back and grabs my brother's testicles," Shawn Morse said.

In a section of the tape shot right before Jeremy Morse, 24, throws the punch, it is not clear where Jackson's hands are. But the teen has already been handcuffed at this point.

The officer's brother also claims Morse suffered visible injuries during a struggle with the teenager at the gas station where the arrest took place.

Volatile Arrest

The two-minute videotape shows Officer Morse lifting a handcuffed Jackson to his feet and slamming him onto a police cruiser's hood. Then Morse, who had a streak of blood above his ear, struck Jackson in the face with a closed fist.

"I know from what I've been told is that he was scratched behind the ear, my brother had some abrasions on his chest and on his neck during a struggle with Donovan Jackson," Shawn Morse said.

Jones, a pastor and a friend of Morse, said he was a good cop. He said his friend was upset about the way the arrest has been perceived.

"I know that he's grieved by this and it wasn't his intention to shock the American public and be painted as a racist and all these other outlandish claims that have been said about him," Jones said.

The videotaped incident occurred as Jeremy Morse and Darvish were assisting two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies, who were investigating a car driven by Jackson's father that alleged had an expired registration sticker. Police said Jackson lunged at a sheriff's deputy, provoking the altercation.

Mitchell Crooks, who taped the incident from a hotel across the street from the gas station, was arrested last week on outstanding warrants for petty theft, driving under the influence, and a hit-and-run, Los Angeles County District Attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said. Crooks has said police are seeking retaliation over the videotape.

The felony charge Morse faces applies to law enforcement workers accused of using position to unlawfully assault or beat a person. He has been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of federal, state and local investigations.

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