LOS ANGELES — A federal jury in Los Angeles has cleared two Santa Monica police officers of racial discrimination but deadlocked on other allegations in a civil case stemming from a March 1, 2008 arrest at Yankee Doodle restaurant on the Third Street Promenade.

According to City Hall attorneys, the plaintiff in the case, Paul Burke, became involved in a fight with another restaurant patron after watching a televised Ultimate Fighting Championship match at the restaurant with his wife.

Police officers responded to the incident and tazed Burke, who is African American, five times. In a civil suit against the city, Burke, who was 45 at the time of the arrest, alleged two of the officers, who are both white, used excessive force, arrested him without probable cause and were motivated by racial animus in violation of his equal protection rights.

He initially sought $4 million in damages but reduced his demand to $599,000 on the eve of the trial, which began last week, according to Deputy City Attorney Carol Ann Rohr.

An eight-person federal jury on Thursday found there had been no racial motivation in the arrest, but was unable to come to a unanimous decision on the excessive force and lack of probable cause allegations. No punitive damages were awarded.

Rohr said she considered the result a positive outcome for City Hall.

“I’m very pleased that the jury found, as we have been saying all along, there was no intentional racial animus in this case,” she said. “All along we have felt that the officers did nothing wrong. We have been prepared to go to trial and we are prepared to go to trial again on the remaining claims.”

It’s unclear if Burke will ask for another trial. His attorney, Martin D. Holly, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Rohr said she believed the officers did not use excessive force in making the arrest.

At trial, Santa Monica attorneys argued that when the officers attempted to contact him, Burke spun around and attacked one of the officers, pushing the officer into a pool table and causing him to receive a gash above his right eye.

The officers used their tazers only after Burke remained “belligerent, combative and assaultive,” according to a statement from Santa Monica lawyers.

“They used reasonable force under the circumstances,” Rohr said.


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