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Monday, November 16, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Officers Face Murder Charge In Beating Of Black Motorist

AP

DETROIT - Two white police officers were charged with murder today in the beating death of a black motorist Nov. 5 that raised tensions with its echoes of the Rodney King case. Two other officers were charged with lesser offenses.

Officers Larry Nevers and Walter Budzyn could get life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder in the slaying of Malice Green, 35, who died of head injuries after being beaten on an inner-city street near a suspected crack house.

Sgt. Freddie Douglas, who is black, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, which carries a 15-year sentence, and willful neglect of duty, punishable by a year. The ranking officer on the scene, he was accused of failing to try to stop the beating.

Officer Robert Lessnau, who is white, was charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm, a 10-year offense.

Wayne County Prosecutor John O'Hair said that three other officers were at the scene of the beating, but there was insufficient evidence to charge them with a crime.

Bail was set today at $100,000 each for Budzyn and Nevers, $25,000 for Douglas and $10,000 for Lessnau. All four were silent at their arraignment, and pleas of not guilty were entered for them. A preliminary hearing was set for Dec. 14.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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