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L.A. Police Commission to Appeal Ruling

THE civilian Police Commission, pressing on in its legal battle over who controls the Police Department, unanimously agreed Tuesday to appeal a judge's ruling that upheld the Los Angeles City Council's reinstatement of embattled Police Chief Daryl Gates. Saying Superior Court Judge Ronald Sohigian ``erred'' in his decision Monday, the commission voted 3 to 0 to launch an expedited appeal of the ruling.

Earlier Tuesday, another judge refused to grant separate trials for four policemen indicted in the Rodney King beating, and the California Highway Patrol announced it has disciplined five of its officers for their roles in the incident.

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In issuing his ruling Monday, Judge Sohigian decided the City Council was acting within its authority when it overrode the commission's April 4 vote suspending Chief Gates by agreeing to settle a lawsuit filed by the chief.

The commission had taken its action against Gates, placing him on a 60-day unpaid leave, in order to keep him out of police headquarters while it conducted an investigation in response to the brutal beating of motorist Rodney King.

The commission contends that the council, in moving to settle Gates's suit, undermined its charter mandate as the sole supervising authority over Police Department operations.

``The commissioners believe that this ruling, if allowed to stand, will significantly alter the operation of city government in Los Angeles,'' Commissioner Melanie Lomax Tuesday said.

But council president John Ferraro said he saw no reason for the council to intervene in commission decisions in the future, ``unless they do crazy things like they did in suspending Daryl Gates.''

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