Denny’s rescuers describe race to save his life



LOS ANGELES (AP)—Four people told a jury Thursday of their frantic race to save trucker Reginald Denny’s life, but said they couldn’t identify the men who beat him.

Lei Yuille said she saw Denny’s beating as it was broadcast live by television news cameras and knew she had to help.

‘‘My brother was in the room,’‘ she said. ‘‘He looked at me and said, ‘We are Christians. We’ve got to go help him out,’ and I said, ‘Right.’ Then he went and got his keys.‘’‘

Ms. Yuille, a 38-year-old dietitian, said it took 10 minutes to get to Florence and Normandie avenues, the flashpoint of the April 29, 1992, rioting.

Ms. Yuille said she ran to Denny’s truck, where he had managed to return. ‘‘I told him I was there to help him,’‘ she said. ‘‘He said, ‘I can’t see. I don’t know what happened.’ I told him I would guide him.‘’

As she comforted Denny, others arrived.

Truck driver Bobby Green said he hurried to the intersection because he knew it would take expertise to drive Denny’s 18-wheeler. Titus Murphy, a 36-year-old engineer, said he thought he might be able to drive the truck when he left his nearby home with his girlfriend, Terri Barnett, and rushed to the intersection.

The four testified at the trial of Damian Williams, 20, and Henry Watson, 28, who are charged with attempted murder and other felonies in attacks on eight victims, including Denny. The witnesses, like the defendants, are black. Denny is white.

‘‘Can you identify the people who attacked Reginald Denny?’‘ Williams’ lawyer, Edi Faal, asked Ms. Yuille.

‘‘No,’‘ she said.

‘‘Ms. Yuille, you are a black lady?’‘ Faal asked.

‘‘Yes,’‘ she said with a laugh. ‘‘That’s obvious. I am.’‘

‘‘Do you have difficulty recognizing black people?’‘ Faal asked.

‘‘No, I don’t,’‘ she said.

Faal, who’s black, repeated that line of questioning with the other witnesses, and obtained the same response.

If convicted, Williams and Watson face life in prison. They say they are not the men seen on the videotape.

The rescuers said they didn’t know Denny or each other but were united by a single mission: to keep him alive.

‘‘At that moment we all clicked at the same time,’‘ Murphy said. ‘‘We knew we had a task to do. We were going to take him to the hospital.’‘

With Green driving and Ms. Yuille and Denny in the cab, Murphy perched on the running board as the truck reached speeds exceeding 55 mph.

Barnett, a 30-year-old merchandiser, said she drove ahead of the truck to clear traffic. At Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital, she alerted paramedics before looking at Denny for the first time.

‘‘His face was so swollen it didn’t seem like he had a nose. And he started bleeding from the mouth,’‘ Barnett said. Denny went into convulsions as paramedics tended to him, she said.

Denny, 37, testified Wednesday that he remembered nothing about the attack, which followed the acquittal of four white officers on state charges in the beating of black motorist Rodney King.

Watson’s lawyer, Karen Ackerson, repeatedly asked the witnesses if they saw police during the rescue. They said they didn’t but were passed by two police cars heading in the opposite direction as they drove to the hospital. They said they blew the horn to flag down the officers, but the cars didn’t stop.