The officer-involved shooting death of teenager Michael Brown this week and the subsequent protests across the United States have rekindled interest in another case of alleged excessive force blamed on the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department.
Nearly four years to the day before Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson opened fire and killed Brown, 18, a complaint filed in federal court accused the same law enforcement agency of violating the civil rights of a man who says he was badly beaten after being wrongly arrested, then later charged with “destruction of property” for bleeding on the uniforms of the cops alleged to have injured him.
On Friday, Michael Daly of The Daily Beast recounted the case of Henry Davis, an African-American welder who tried to sue the City of Ferguson after an autumn 2009 altercation with the same police department currently making headlines for the high-profile killing of Brown.
Davis, Daly recalled, was arrested on September 20, 2009 when a Ferguson cop mistook him for a man with the same first and last name wanted on an outstanding warrant. Davis was brought to the Police Department headquarters and told to spend the night in the same one-bed cell occupied by another individual. When he objected and asked for a sleeping mat of his own, his attorneys wrote, the officers got violent.
Officer John Beaird, the complaint reads, “called other officers to the area outside the cell and told the other officers that Plaintiff was being belligerent and failing to comply with his orders.” Five cops were soon in the area and, according to the suit, Officer Michael White charged Davis, grabbed him and then slammed him into a wall.
“A female police officer got on Plaintiff’s back and handcuffed Plaintiff with Plaintiff’s arms behind his back and lying on his stomach,” the complaint continues. “Just before Plaintiff was picked up to his feet, Defendant White rushed in the cell a second time and kicked Plaintiff in the head while Plaintiff was lying on the floor and handcuffed with his arms behind his back.”
“He ran in and kicked me in the head,” Davis recalled, according to The Daily Beast. “I almost passed out at that point… Paramedics came… They said it was too much blood, I had to go to the hospital.”
The detainee didn’t get help there, however, because he refused treatment unless the hospital staff would first photograph his injuries.
“I wanted a witness and proof of what they done to me,” Davis said, according to the website.
Instead, he was taken back to the jail, where he remained for several days until he could post $1,500 bond related to four counts of “property damage.” In a signed complaint, Daly wrote, Officer Beaird said David bled on his own uniform and those of three others officers.
When the issue was ultimately brought up during legal proceedings pertaining to the civil suit filed by Davis, Officers Christopher Pillarick, Beaird and White all denied getting blood on their outfits, the Beast reported.
“The contradictions between the complaint and the depositions apparently are what prompted the prosecutor to drop the ‘property damage’ allegation,” Daly wrote this week. “The prosecutor also dropped a felony charge of assault on an officer that had been lodged more than a year after the incident and shortly after Davis filed his civil suit.”
That same suit compelled the Ferguson Police Department to produce surveillance camera footage from the alleged altercation, but the cops failed to properly save the clip, James Schottel, the plaintiff’s lawyer, told Daly this week. Furthermore, the attorney explained that his efforts to obtain the use-of-force history for the officers involved proved futile when he became aware that reports involving non-fatal altercations were absent from all officers’ personnel files, per departmental policy.
“On Friday, police finally identified the officer as Darren Wilson, who is said to have no disciplinary record, as such records are kept in Ferguson,” Daly wrote this week. “We already know that he started out at a time when it was accepted for a Ferguson cop to charge somebody with property damage for bleeding on his uniform and later saying there was no blood on him at all.”
According to court papers obtained by RT, Magistrate Judge Nannette A. Baker ruled late last year in favor the city, halting Davis’ efforts to sue the city for multiple alleged violations of his civil rights. His attorneys filed a notice of appeal in March, and the case is currently slated to be considered later this year by the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Appellant presented a submissible case of excessive force and Missouri state law assault and battery and respectfully requests this Honorable Court to reverse the district court’s judgment of dismissal of Appellant’s excessive force and Missouri state law assault and battery claims against Appellees Michael White, John Beaird and Kim Tihen,” the appeal reads in part. “Appellant presented a submissible case of municipal liability and requests this Honorable Court to reverse the district court’s judgment of dismissal of Appellant’s municipal liability claim against Appellee City of Ferguson, Missouri.”
When The Daily Beast caught up this week with Schottel, Davis’ attorney, he told them that rumors of the Ferguson Police Department firing multiple shots at Brown last week didn’t surprise him.
“I said I already know about Ferguson, nothing new can faze me about Ferguson,” he told the website.