An ‘open-and-shut’ case of police brutality in Ferguson, MO’s past

An ‘open-and-shut’ case of police brutality in Ferguson, MO’s past

The question of whether the police in Ferguson, Mo., shot down black teenager Michael Brown in cold blood, as many on the left are charging, remains to be determined. A second case that took place in the St. Louis suburb in 2009 that conspicuously shows the police using excessive force in the arrest of a black man who turned out to be innocent has been dredged out of mothballs by the Daily Beast:

Police in Ferguson, Missouri, once charged a man with destruction of property for bleeding on their uniforms while four of them allegedly beat him.

“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 … defendant did then and there unlawfully commit the offense of ‘property damage’ to wit did transfer blood to the uniform,” reads the charge sheet.

Henry Davis, the man in question, was arrested for an outstanding warrant that proved to actually be for another man of the same surname, but a different middle name and Social Security number.

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The booking officer had no other reason to hold Davis, who ended up in Ferguson only because he missed the exit for St. Charles and then pulled off the highway because the rain was so heavy he could not see to drive. The cop who had pulled up behind him must have run his license plate and assumed he was that other Henry Davis. Davis said the cop approached his vehicle, grabbed his cellphone from his hand, cuffed him and placed him in the back seat of the patrol car, without a word of explanation.

But the booking officer was not ready just to let Davis go, and proceeded to escort him to a one-man cell that already had a man in it asleep on the lone bunk. Davis says that he asked the officer if he could at least have one of the sleeping mats that were stacked nearby.

It gets worse. From the Mail Online:

Davis was placed in a one-man cell, which already had one man asleep on the only single bed.

Being early morning and cold, he asked for a sleeping mat from a nearby pile, but was refused.

Some time later, Davis said in a lawsuit file thereafter, the booking officer returned to the cell with three other officers.

He said he was slammed against the back wall by one of them and told to lay down with his hands behind his back.

Davis was straddled by a female officer, he said, and cuffed.

There is no mention in either article of whether Davis won his lawsuit. Luckily, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley has the answer at his blog:

Davis sued the city for civil rights violations, but late last year Magistrate Judge Nannette A. Baker ruled in favor the city. 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.

The question now becomes what bearing, if any, this case has on the Brown case. The argument will be made that this demonstrates a pattern of systematic abuse. But does it?

The Davis case is one isolated example of bad cops that occurred five years ago. None of the sources I consulted provided the names or whereabouts of the officers involved. A little independent sleuthing turned up the filing at the Eighth Circuit Court, which lists the names of two Ferguson P.D. officers. One is Michael White, named as the defendant. A second is Officer John Beaird.

I was unable to determine whether those men are still even employed by the city of Ferguson, much less whether either man was involved in the exchange that led to the death of Michael Brown.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.