A Los Angeles police officer convicted of assault for kicking and punching a man during a South Los Angeles arrest caught on video was spared jail time at his sentencing on Tuesday after fulfilling his end of an agreement made with prosecutors.
Richard Garcia, 36, quietly struck the deal with prosecutors last year, pleading no contest to a felony charge of assault under color of authority. The district attorney’s office gave Garcia the opportunity to avoid jail and have his charge reduced to a misdemeanor if he completed community service, followed all laws, stayed away from the man he kicked and donated $500 to a charity by this week’s hearing.
Superior Court Judge William N. Sterling accepted the deal at a hearing in a downtown L.A. courtroom and allowed Garcia to withdraw his plea to the felony and enter a new no-contest plea to a misdemeanor assault charge.
The plea deal angered activists and community leaders who have pressed Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey to toughen up on police officers accused of using too much force, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Garcia faced up to three years in jail if he had been convicted of the felony assault charge. He is still employed by the LAPD, though he has remained at home, away from work, pending a disciplinary hearing. His termination from the agency is expected.