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In the wake of the acquittal of four New York police officers accused of killing Amadou Diallo in a fusillade of bullets, the Diallo family is looking for another way to make the police officers and the city pay, and to prevent similar tragedies.

A federal civil rights prosecution is one suggestion. A civil suit seeking damages is another. But as second efforts after other notorious acquittals show, victims or their survivors face significant obstacles to achieving the justice they seek.Take the Rodney King case. The 1992 criminal trial of the Los Angeles police officers who beat him — and were videotaped doing so — was moved to a neighboring county, just as the Diallo trial was moved from the Bronx to Albany, N.Y. An all-white jury acquitted the white officers. In the wake of riots far worse than the street demonstrations sparked by the Diallo acquittals, two of the Los Angeles officers were convicted in a federal civil rights trial that included new evidence, and Mr. King himself won a $3.8 million settlement from the city.

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