Ferguson Police Beat A Man, Then Charged Him With The Crime Of Bleeding

Image Credit: nbcnews.com

Image Credit: nbcnews.com

A black man driving on a lonely highway, accidentally misses the exit. He takes the next one, only to find himself in a strange town. It’s the middle of the night, and raining heavily. He pulls over to the side of road to plan his next move. Moments later, there are headlights approaching in the rear view mirror.

A police officer approaches his vehicle, raps on the window. He’s given a command to exit the vehicle. He complies. He’s being placed under arrest, though he’s committed no crime. He’s handcuffed and thrown into the back of a police car.

Next, the man is taken to jail. It soon becomes clear that police have made a mistake and arrested the wrong person. It doesn’t matter. He is thrown into a jail cell, anyways.

Later that night he’s handcuffed in his cell. He’s beaten by a gang of cops, who punch and kick him repeatedly, while his head is held by one officer and his hands are cuffed behind his back.

Later still, the cops file criminal charges against him. They hit him with destruction of property, “because he got blood on their clothes”.

These events are historical. This didn’t take place in Selma, Alabama in the 1960’s. It was Ferguson, Missouri, and the year was 2009.

According to the Daily Beast, on September 20th, 2009, 52 year old Henry Davis was mistakenly arrested by the Ferguson police. The beating that he received in his cell that night sent him to the emergency room with profuse bleeding. Davis refused to be treated until after the ER staff had photographed his injuries. He was diagnosed with severe bleeding as well as a concussion.

Here’s the photo of Henry Davis, courtesy of the Daily Beast.

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After beating him to a pulp, Ferguson police charged Davis with the crime of bleeding on their clothes.

According to the Daily Beast, the charge sheet reads

“On and/or about the 20th day of Sept. 20, 2009 at or near 222 S. Florissant within the corporate limits of Ferguson, Missouri, the above named defendant did then and there unlawfully commit the offense of ‘property damage’ to wit did transfer blood to the uniform.”

The prosecutor later dropped the charges against him, and Davis filed a civil suit against the Ferguson police force. The testimony of the Ferguson police department reads like a script straight out of film depicting events in the deep south, before the civil rights act became law.

While the officers had sworn under penalty of perjury that Davis had bled on their uniforms, even that story did not stand up on questioning.

Ferguson police officer John Beird said that Davis never got blood on his uniform.

“After Mr. Davis was detained, did you have any blood on you?”

“No, sir,”

“Is that your signature as complainant?”

“It is, sir,”

“And what do you allege that Mr. Davis did unlawfully in this one?”

“Transferred blood to my uniform while Davis was resisting,”

“And didn’t I ask you earlier in this deposition if Mr. Davis got blood on your uniform?”

“You did, sir.”

“And didn’t you respond no?”

“Correct. I did.”

A second officer, Christopher Pillarick, also said, under oath, that there was never blood on his uniform.

A third officer, Michael White, denied that he had ever seen Davis bleeding at all.

Yet all signed sworn statements charging Davis with ‘property damage’ for bleeding on their uniforms.

During the civil trial, it also became clear that the Ferguson police department had no system for keeping track of citizens complaints against the officers prior to 2010.

In spite of the clear evidence of perjury and police brutality in the Davis case, a magistrate ruled that the perjury charges were minor and did not constitute a violation of Davis rights. The same magistrate ruled that Davis injuries were too minor to amount to excessive force by the Ferguson police department.

Michael Brown, the 18 year old who was recently shot and killed by Ferguson police, was also not from the area. He was there visiting his grandmother at the time of his death.

Davis story suggests a very deep level of corruption and institutionalized racism, not only within the Ferguson police department, but the entire legal system. It’s extremely unlikely that these will be only cases of police brutality exposed over the next few weeks.

The actions of the Ferguson police over the past week clearly suggest these cops are used to having an unlimited amount of power. Davis case suggests they’ve been allowed to get away with a lot of bad things, and for a very long time.

Now that the US Department of Justice is involved, there’s no telling what an intensive investigation will turn up. From the looks of things, we are only just beginning to see the depth of the problem in this community. Yet, it’s already becoming clear that Ferguson is the Selma of our time.