The fact that Fernando Davis was driving with a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit did not give the police carte blanche to beat him up when he got to jail and laugh about it while they were beating him.
Mr. Davis had too much to drink on his birthday and regrettably got behind the wheel to drive home. He knows this was a mistake and says that he deserved to get pulled over and arrested, since he was being irresponsible, even though he caused no accidents. Because he believed he was being irresponsible, he was very compliant and understanding with the police.
He was arrested and placed in a holding cell with dozens of other inmates. The video footage shows Davis walking around the cell trying to find a place to sit down. After he found a place to sit, he sat for a very short amount of time. For whatever reason, police came in and took Davis to another holding cell where he waited by himself. The video footage shows Davis standing in the middle of the cell and perhaps talking to police (there’s no audio in the video). Davis walks over toward the door and leans against the wall, and all of a sudden a group of police barge in and start beating the tar out of the guy. They beat his face, his ribs, his legs, and they pepper-sprayed his eyes. After they finished, they left the room and closed the door, leaving him on the floor motionless for a few seconds before he came to and stood up. He walked over to the toilet to let the blood drain from his face. Davis is suing the department for their excessive use of force.
We know all this, because the video footage was finally released. Before it was released, police claimed that there was no video, and because they had no video, they had their own stories as to what happened. WXYZ reported:
Said one deputy under oath, Davis was removed from the general holding cell for “causing a ruckus,” “getting loud…trying to intimidate” other inmates by “balling up his fists.” Another had a different version: saying Davis was removed not for anything aggressive, but for taking another inmate’s seat. Story number three came from then-Undersheriff James Gage. After readings his officer’s reports, he testified Davis “was pounding on the door…and hollering…”, aggravating other inmates.
The video shows none of that. In fact, Davis is inside the general holding cell for barely two minutes. A federal magistrate, who watched the video himself, wrote that Davis “…appears to be nothing but cooperative with the deputies.”
Once Davis is in the isolation cell, the deputies’ stories still don’t square with the tape. Deputy Terry Cocking said Davis was tackled because he “balled up his fists” and “started coming towards” an officer. But in the moments before he’s swarmed, Davis’s right hand is clearly visible: it’s open, and against a wall. Another said when deputies ask Davis to remove his shoes, he made an “aggressive move” to try to escape from the cell. Again, on tape, Davis appears to be leaning against the wall before deputies take him down. And several deputies testified that Davis aggressively kicked his shoe at the officers, striking one. ”I never kicked my feet, my shoe off at anybody,” Davis told Channel 7’s Ross Jones. ”Why would they say that?” Jones asked. ”I don’t know…I really don’t have any idea. I never kicked my shoe off at anybody,” Davis said.
The reason they claimed all these things is that they thought they were covered. They were hoping the video wouldn’t be released. The police tried to get the case thrown out, but because the video footage was so incriminating, the judge ruled to move the case forward.
As of now, the police involved are still on the force. If anything eventually happens to them, it’ll probably involve administrative leave with pay.