Monday, October 10, 2005

Beating Victim Wasn't Drunk!

A retired elementary school teacher who returned to the storm-struck city over the weekend to check on his properties was searching for cigarettes when he was arrested and repeatedly punched in the head by police, the man's lawyer and his father said today.

Robert Davis had not been drinking before he was beaten and taken into custody Saturday night, said attorney Joseph Bruno. The lawyer's comments contradict police reports that allege Davis was publicly intoxicated.

"I didn't do anything. I was going to get a pack of cigarettes and taking my evening constitutional," Davis said.

Meanwhile, a federal civil rights investigation was opened into the beating of the 64-year-old Davis, an incident that was captured on videotape.


The APTN tape shows an officer hitting Davis at least four times in the head outside a French Quarter bar. Davis appeared to resist, twisting and flailing as he was dragged to the ground by four officers. Davis's lawyer said his client did not resist police.

"I don't think that when a person is getting beat up there's a whole lot of thought. It's survival. You don't have a whole lot of time to think when you're being pummeled," Bruno said.

Another officer also kneed Davis and punched him twice. Davis was pushed to the sidewalk with blood streaming down his arm and into the gutter. The officers accused of striking Davis were identified as Schilling and Evangelist.

Bruno said his client suffered fractures to his cheek and eye socket, and scrapes and bruises, but was expected to recover.

"He is an extremely articulate, a really sweet guy," Bruno said, adding that Davis was not indicting the entire force for the incident.

"He is so grateful for the work that most of the police officers did," Bruno said. "There's always a few bad apples in every basket."


David Davis, of Columbus, Ohio, said his son had gone to New Orleans over the weekend to visit his own house and a couple of others that he owns with his wife.

"They were there looking things over, trying to find out what happened to their property. That was the reason they were there," David Davis said. "That's probably the reason he was walking around the French Quarter."
NOPD officers' account of beating disputed

And from: Subject of Taped Beating Says He Was Sober

Police have alleged that the 64-year-old Davis was publicly intoxicated, a charge he strongly denied as he stood on the street corner where the incident played out Saturday.

"I haven't had a drink in 25 years," Davis said. He had stitches beneath his left eye, a bandage on his left hand and complained of soreness in his back and aches in his left shoulder.

Davis' side of incident:
Davis said he had been walking in the French Quarter and approached a mounted police officer to ask about the curfew in the city when another officer interrupted.

"This other guy interfered and I said he shouldn't," Davis said. "I started to cross the street and — bam — I got it. ... All I know is this guy attacked me and said, `I will kick your ass,' and they proceeded to do it."

He said he did not know why the punches were thrown.

The confrontation came as the New Orleans Police Department — long plagued by allegations of brutality and corruption — struggles with the aftermath of Katrina.


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