Denny testifies for first time about beating



LOS ANGELES (AP)—Testifying for the first time at his beating trial, Reginald Denny said he couldn’t remember the attack at the flashpoint of the Los Angeles riots. During a break, he left the witness stand and hugged the mothers of his accused assailants.

‘‘May I shake your hand?’‘ Denny said to Georgiana Williams, mother of defendant Damian Williams. Mrs. Williams reached out with a big smile and hugged Denny.

‘‘I love you,’‘ she said. ‘‘I’m so glad to meet you.’‘

Denny then walked toward the spot where Joyce Watson, mother of defendant Henry Watson, was standing and embraced her in a bear hug.

Williams, 20, and Watson, 28, are accused of attempted murder and other felonies in the attacks on eight victims, including Denny, at a South Central intersection as the riots erupted April 29, 1992.

Earlier, Denny testified he remembers little of his near-fatal attack after the right passenger window on his truck shattered.

‘‘From that point on I have no idea what I saw,’‘ he told Deputy District Attorney Janet Moore. ‘‘I have no memory after that.’‘

In a hushed courtroom, Denny, 37, sat and watched about 10 minutes of videotape replaying the violence which engulfed him at the intersection of Florence and Normandie avenues.

Several jurors sat with their hands over their mouths, and one shook his head as the scenes of a bloodied Denny being kicked, pummeled, and struck with a brick unfolded on the six TV screens set up around the courtroom.

The beating, televised live via news helicopter, followed the state trial acquittals of four white policemen who beat black motorist Rodney King on March 3, 1991.

Denny’s beating has become a symbolic counterpoint to the King beating. Denny is white, and his accused attackers are black.

Denny showed jurors the lump on the side of his right temple where his face was permanently disfigured.

At one point, Denny walked over to the jury box at the prosecutor’s request and leaned in to show jurors the dent in his head where part of his skull had to be removed. One woman juror reached out and touched the spot.

Denny was followed to the stand by Bobby Green, the black truck driver who left his home when he saw the beating on TV, rushed to the scene and drove the gravely injured Denny to the hospital.

He and three other good Samaritans came to Denny’s aid, Green said, recalling, ‘‘He was bleeding all over and his eyes was back in his head, like in his skull or something.’‘

Green said that when he climbed into the big rig to drive, Denny thanked him for saving his life. At the hospital, he said, Denny suffered a seizure.

Denny recalled waking up about six days after the beating at Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital but said he couldn’t see or talk. He was concerned about telling his employer where he was, still thinking it was April 29.

He said he needed numerous surgeries to repair his shattered head, put his eye back in its socket, and move his jaw back into place.

Denny said he later suffered blood clots in his leg and lung and had to be hospitalized again. He said he has taken medication for seizures and clotting for over a year and is now permanently susceptible to head infections.

Denny also testified he was unaware of the King beating trial verdicts when he inched his truck into the intersection.

‘‘It was scary, actually, because it was a lot of things happening … cars going the wrong way and just a lot of glass,’‘ Denny said of the scene, adding he feared striking pedestrians with his loaded 80,000-pound gravel truck. ‘‘It was just total madness,’‘ he said.

Denny said he was trying to maneuver his rig around a smaller white truck that was stopped in the intersection when the passenger window of his cab shattered.