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Officer videotaped while beating suspect is fired

A police officer who was videotaped beating a handcuffed suspect with a baton was fired, Police Chief William Smith said Tuesday.

Officer Stephen Danner, 33, was put on paid leave after being charged last week with battery in the Dec. 7 incident.

"Common sense would indicate you don't strike a man while he's handcuffed," Smith said Tuesday during a news conference.

The videotape appears to show Danner repeatedly swinging his baton at 19-year-old David Weiler, after Danner had sprayed Weiler with pepper spray and thrown him to the ground because he refused to get into a patrol car. A hedge partially blocks the view of the beating. Weiler, who had been arrested because he was wandering in a residential neighborhood and acting strange, suffered bruises but no serious injury.

The tape, which was shot by an anonymous private investigator working on another case in the area, was mailed to City Hall two months after the incident.

Judge denies motions

to derail tobacco case

MIAMI _ Efforts by tobacco lawyers to derail the second phase of a trial involving up to 500,000 sick Florida smokers and their families are being stopped cold.

Circuit Judge Robert Kaye has denied multiple motions, including two in which defense lawyers wanted Kaye to remove himself from the case.

A motion by tobacco industry lawyers for a mistrial was denied by Kaye on Monday, along with one seeking Kaye's disqualification.

The tobacco industry lost the first phase of the case July 7, when jurors found the nation's five largest tobacco companies liable for making a defective product.

The trial's second phase will begin Sept. 7 and will be heard by the same jury. It will decide what, if any, damages should be awarded to the lawsuit's nine representative class members, then the half-million other members will be free to seek recovery. The plaintiffs are seeking at least $200-billion.

_ Compiled from wire reports