The Day Ferguson Cops Were Caught in a Bloody Lie

Reply Fri 15 Aug, 2014 07:47 am

The Day Ferguson Cops Were Caught in a Bloody Lie

The officers got the wrong man, but charged him anyway—with getting his blood on their uniforms. How the Ferguson PD ran the town where Michael Brown was gunned down.

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

The address is the headquarters of the Ferguson Police Department, where a 52-year-old welder named Henry Davis was taken in the predawn hours on that date. He had been 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.

“I said, ‘I told you guys it wasn’t me,’” Davis later testified.

He recalled the booking officer saying, “We have a problem.”

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.

”He said I wasn’t getting one,” Davis said.

Davis balked at being a second man in a one-man cell.

“Because it’s 3 in the morning,” he later testified. “Who going to sleep on a cement floor?”

The booking officer summoned a number of fellow cops. One opened the cell door while another suddenly charged, propelling Davis inside and slamming him against the back wall.

“I told the police officers there that I didn’t do nothing, ‘Why is you guys doing this to me?’” Davis testified. “They said, ‘OK, just lay on the ground and put your hands behind your back.’”

Davis said he complied and that a female officer straddled and then handcuffed him. Two other officers crowded into the cell.

“They started hitting me,” he testified. “I was getting hit and I just covered up.”

The other two stepped out and the female officer allegedly lifted Davis’ head as the cop who had initially pushed him into the cell reappeared.

“He ran in and kicked me in the head,” Davis recalled. “I almost passed out at that point… Paramedics came… They said it was too much blood, I had to go to the hospital.”

A patrol car took the bleeding Davis to a nearby emergency room. He refused treatment, demanding somebody first take his picture.

“I wanted a witness and proof of what they done to me,” Davis said.

He was driven back to the jail, where he was held for several days before he posted $1,500 bond on four counts of “property damage.” Police Officer John Beaird had signed complaints swearing on pain of perjury that Davis had bled on his uniform and those of three fellow officers.

The remarkable turned inexplicable when Beaird was deposed in a civil case that Davis subsequently brought seeking redress and recompense.

Schottel figures the courts might take the problems of the Ferguson Police Department as more than de minimis as a result of the protests sparked when an officer shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old named Michael Brown.

“After Mr. Davis was detained, did you have any blood on you?” asked Davis’ lawyer, James Schottel.

“No, sir,” Beaird replied.

Schottel showed Beaird a copy of the “property damage” complaint.

“Is that your signature as complainant?” the lawyer asked.

“It is, sir,” the cop said.

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

“Transferred blood to my uniform while Davis was resisting,” the cop said.

“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.”

Beaird seemed to be either admitting perjury or committing it. The depositions of other officers suggested that the “property damage” charges were not just bizarre, but trumped up.

“There was no blood on my uniform,” said Police Officer Christopher Pillarick.

And then there was Officer Michael White, the one accused of kicking Davis in the head, an allegation he denies, as his fellow officers deny striking Davis. White had reported suffering a bloody nose in the mayhem.

“Did you see Mr. Davis bleeding at all?” the lawyer, Schottel, asked.

“I did not,” White replied.

“Did Mr. Davis get any blood on you while you were in the cell?” Schottel asked.

“No,” White said.

The contradictions between the complaint and the depositions apparently are what prompted the prosecutor to drop the “property damage” allegation. 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.

Davis suggested in his testimony that if the police really thought he had assaulted an officer he would have been charged back when he was jailed.

“They would have filed those charges right then and there, because that’s a major felony,” he noted.

Indisputable evidence of what transpired in the cell might have been provided by a surveillance camera, but it turned out that the VHS video was recorded at 32 times normal speed.

“It was like a blur,” Schottel told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “You couldn’t see anything.”

The blur proved to be from 12 hours after the incident anyway. The cops had saved the wrong footage after Schottel asked them to preserve it.

Schottel got another unpleasant surprise when he sought the use-of-force history of the officers involved. He learned that before a new chief took over in 2010 the department had a surprising protocol for non-fatal use-of-force reports.

“The officer himself could complete it and give it to the supervisor for his approval,” the prior chief, Thomas Moonier, testified in a deposition. “I would read it. It would be placed in my out basket, and my secretary would probably take it and put it with the case file.”

No copy was made for the officer’s personnel file.

“Everything involved in an incident would generally be with the police report,” Moonier said. “I don’t know what they maintain in personnel files.”

“Who was in charge of personnel files, of maintaining them?” Schottel asked.

“I have no idea,” Moonier said. “I believe City Hall, but I don’t know.”

Schottel focused on the date of the incident.

“On September 20th, 2009, was there any way to identify any officers that were subject of one or more citizens’ complaints?” he asked.

“Not to my knowledge,” Moonier said.

“Was there any way to identify any officers who had completed several use-of-force reports?”

“I don’t recall.”

But however lax the department’s system and however contradictory the officers’ testimony, a federal magistrate ruled that the apparent perjury about the “property damage” charges was too minor to constitute a violation of due process and that Davis’ injuries were de minimis—too minor to warrant a finding of excessive force. Never mind that a CAT scan taken after the incident confirmed that he had suffered a concussion.

Schottel has appealed and expects to argue the case in the early fall. He will contend that perjury is perjury however minor the charge and note that both the NFL and Major League Baseball have learned to consider a concussion a serious injury.

Schottel figures the courts might take the problems of the Ferguson Police Department as more than de minimis as a result of the protests sparked when an officer shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old named Michael Brown on the afternoon of Aug. 9.

“Your chances on appeal are going up,” a fellow lawyer told him.

At least one witness has said that Brown was shot in the back and then in the chest and head as he turned toward the officer with his hands raised.

“I said, ‘Well, that doesn’t surprise me,’” Schottel told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “I said I already know about Ferguson, nothing new can faze me about Ferguson.”

Schottel has also deposed the new chief, Thomas Jackson, who took over in 2010. Jackson testified that he has instituted a centralized system whereby all complaints lodged against cops by citizens or supervisors go through him and are assigned a number in an internal affairs log. Schottel views Jackson as “not a bad guy,” someone who has been trying to make positive change.

“He wants to do right, but it was such a mess,” Schottel said Wednesday.

Jackson has seemed less than progressive as he delayed identifying the officer involved in the shooting for fear it would place him and his family in danger. Jackson would only say the officer is white and has been on the job for six years. This means that for his first two and most formative years the officer might have been writing his own force reports and that none of them went into his file.

“It’s hard to get people to clean things up, especially if they’re used to doing things a certain way,” Schottel said.

According to some reports, the officer will be identified on Friday. 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 say there was no blood on him at all.
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bobsal u1553115
Reply Fri 15 Aug, 2014 09:55 am
0 Replies
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2014 02:00 am
He's black and is always a suspect...It doesn't surprise me. In this society being black is always a suspicion.
bobsal u1553115
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2014 06:21 am
Up till a couple of years ago I though racism was starting to go away. I was horribly wrong. Its as bad as ever.
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2014 01:40 pm
@bobsal u1553115,
Not everyone is racist, only some brain dead people on this site who are apparent as death.
0 Replies
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2014 01:50 pm
Bobsal. I am sure that your post was in reference to the goings on in Ferguson. I was waiting for all the facts to come out and I dont think that they all have yet. I think a witness lied to cover his ass and the cop probably was attacked. Its sad that the shooting took place but let us wait for all the facts to come out before we start an interaction that will cause more innocent people to suffer harm both physical and moneywise. If one looked they can find injustice in every state and city in the U S of A. Does that mean we should burn and loot in every instance of injustice?
cicerone imposter
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2014 02:12 pm
Life isn't fair in many ways, and it's impossible to react to all of them that we see as injustice.
0 Replies
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2014 02:45 pm
We have a police force that is 95% white in a community that is 70% black, in a community that has over the last decade at least seen extensive white flight.....it does not take a genius to know that eventually there will be problems.
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2014 03:09 pm
The community was 85% white in 1980....also poverty has been recently exploding. THe only question was what was going to be the spark to set this powder keg off.
0 Replies
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2014 03:09 pm
Pertinent column in today's Guardian.

There are certain phone calls I dread receiving. It’s the call of a crying mother or father pleading for help because their son or daughter has been killed by those who were supposed to serve and protect them. Several weeks ago, I received one such phone call when an unarmed father of six in Staten Island, New York, was placed in an apparently illegal police chokehold according to videotape capturing the horrific incident. He, Eric Garner, died after repeatedly stating “I can’t breathe”; the city medical examiner later ruled his death a homicide.

Last weekend, as I was preparing for an upcoming march to demand justice for Garner’s family, I received yet another disturbing call. This time, it was from a man in Ferguson, Missouri, who told me about his grandson, 18-year-old Michael Brown. Brown was supposed to begin college this week; instead, he was shot dead by police. He was also unarmed and, according to several eyewitness accounts, had his arms raised in the air to show that he had no weapon. Many news outlets have even stated that his body remained in the street for several hours after he was killed.

As a society, we’d like to think these incidents are few and far between, but as a black American who has worked to advance civil rights for all, I can tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. I can cite case after case of police brutality and excessive force resulting in the deaths of countless men and women. Most of these cases don’t gain prominence on a national level, let alone an international one.

It is 15 years since 23-year-old Amadou Diallo was killed outside his Bronx apartment building when four officers fired a total of 41 shots at him. He was unarmed. His mother and others reached out to my organisation, National Action Network (NAN), for assistance. Despite our efforts, and despite the efforts of many, the officers responsible were all acquitted. In 2006, another unarmed 23-year-old, Sean Bell, was killed the night before his wedding after NYPD officers fired 50 bullets at him and his friends. Timothy Stansbury, 19, was killed in 2004 in Brooklyn, New York, after an officer said he fired by accident. In 2009, a transit cop in Oakland shot and killed Oscar Grant, 22, as he lay face down on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back. The officer said he meant to use his Taser but reached for his gun by mistake.

Many of these cases I have been involved with personally. They highlight an ugly pattern from coast to coast. There are just far too many occurrences of mistakes, accidents and other excuses that have all resulted in one thing – dead unarmed people of colour.

We must address this crisis immediately. We cannot deem an entire segment of the population guilty until proven innocent.

Not all police officers are bad; in fact, the majority are not. But when the bad ones are not held accountable for their actions, it sends a chilling message to the communities they serve. We need our young black men and women to know that their lives matter, that they cannot be gunned down like animals. When cops don’t live in the neighbourhoods they serve, they don’t know how to properly police the area. They then dehumanise an entire group of people by harassing, profiling and, in terrible instances like that of Michael Brown, killing the unarmed.

In the town of Ferguson, most of the population is black, but almost all of its police department is white; 92% of searches and 86% of car stops in Ferguson in 2013 involved black people according to statistics in a recent piece in Mother Jones magazine.

We must stop criminalising minority groups. We must replace the bad apples with police who truly care about serving and protecting us. Knowing the name of an officer accused of killing an unarmed person is not enough; that officer must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

We have fought too long and too hard to eliminate the wounds of racism and prejudice just to watch things regress. Until black people no longer have to fear both the cops and robbers, until we reform policing tactics everywhere, we cannot stay silent. For if we do, we will continue to read headlines like this: Black, unarmed and dead.


The election of Obama didn't, as we all hoped, eliminate racism, it exposed it.
cicerone imposter
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2014 03:50 pm
You wrote,
The election of Obama didn't, as we all hoped, eliminate racism, it exposed it.

It not only exposed it, but racial bigotry came out with a loud BANG!

It was just a matter of time, and it had to come out, before it got so thoroughly exposed.
0 Replies
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2014 08:08 pm
When I saw the supposed security video of Michael Brown supposedly stealing cigars (I can never recognize anyone from a security camera shot), I thought 1.) he looks 13 and not 18; 2.) cigars? sounds like a boyhood prank straight from Tom Sawyer.
cicerone imposter
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2014 08:10 pm
Nobody has the right to kill anyone who steals cigars. There are many ways to handle such crimes, and execution is not one of them.
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2014 08:11 pm
Agree, adding, so, where are the cigars now?

(did they plant cigars?)
That's only half in jest.
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2014 01:42 am
@bobsal u1553115,
Racism will never go away, not until the baby boomers die out, then the civil rights generation dies out, then the disco generation dies out, then my generation dies out. Perhaps those born in the new millennium are the ones who will pioneer change. But then again, I doubt it since a lot of political views tend to go hand in hand with a lot of racial prejudices.

I have a funny theory....

I think racism will cease, at least temporarily, when humanity is face with an imminent danger and that people will be forced to depend on each other, and that by being forced people will also see the importance of survival of not just each other, but as a species--well, that is my view I know it sounds like science fiction but that is what I think.
0 Replies
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2014 01:52 am
One thing regarding the whole rioting thing that bothers me especially when I read the L.A times columns and the subsequent posts by readers, is that there is always that "racist" component when people make comments. For example (which is quite common among a lot of 'white posters') there is always a reference to primates such as "monkeys" or "apes" or when people phrase their comments and refer to the situation as a "zoo" as opposed to using the word volatile.

I think what many white viewers of this situation forget to realize is that there are always opportunist in any volatile situation. In the 90's shortly after the verdict of the Rodney King beating, people were looting. It wasn't the average working African-American that started the looting, the Bloods and the Crips actually incited the looting and subsequent violence. When the Lakers won the championships in the 2000's and retail stores were being smashed, it wasn't just blacks that participated, but the juveniles of all ethnic cultures who are so-called fans of the Lakers.

Often times I think opportunists want an unstable situation to "come up" and break the law. A lot of these people that are stealing and smashing things don't care about the young man that lost his life, they want a reason to simply break the law. These same types of behavior can be found among the people of Russia, Italy, or Ukraine, any place in the world where there is civil unrest. It just so happens that whenever a situation happens where the race of inhabitants of a community are involved people tend to project their racial/racist stereotypes on the people without analyzing the entire situation.
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2014 04:04 am
Not only that when speaking of ethnic conflict in Africa, as opposed to elsewhere, the word "tribe" is inevitably used.
bobsal u1553115
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2014 07:41 am
Absolutely not. But if this murdering of civilians continue then the reaction to those murdered can be expected to escalate. These are the first "riots" in decades. Curb the cops' murdering or the civil reaction will get worse.
bobsal u1553115
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2014 07:42 am
Good article. The Guardian is a real news outlet.
0 Replies
bobsal u1553115
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2014 07:44 am
Exactly right. Even if he stole cigars its not a capital crime.

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