Bringing Ferguson, Missouri roaring back into the spotlight, we have a story which, in the big picture, would be comparable to BP trying to sue Alaska for getting feathers and fish in their oil.
Even though the incident occurred going on five years ago, well before the latest Ferguson controversy, the idiocy is timeless. A man has asked that the 8th Circuit federal appeals court to take a more detailed look at his case after he was charged for destruction of police property for bleeding on officers’ uniforms…after they (he alleges) beat him!
Yes, Henry Davis sued the city of Ferguson and three police officers after he claims that they used excessive force and attacked him in his jail cell. Furthermore, he alleges, one of those officers then falsified the accompanying affidavits; the one charging him with destruction of police property. The three officers being sued are Michael White, Kim Tihen and John Beaird – the latter being the one to fill out the affidavit.
The case all starts in the twilight hours of September 20, 2009. Ferguson cops allege they stopped Davis after driving in excess of 100 mph. They then claim they smelled alcohol, and that Davis refused a breathalyzer test…then became combative when being instructed to enter his jail cell. Davis, on the other hand, claims that it was raining heavily and that he had simply missed his exit while heading home from a friend’s house. He claims that he then pulled off the road in Ferguson. He said he was never asked to take any sobriety tests, and instead, was told he was being arrested on an outstanding warrant. As far as the ‘being combative’ allegation against him, he says he simply raised his arms over his head to protect himself.
Trying to prove to the panel that his client’s story is the truth, Mr. Davis’ attorney, James Schottel, pointed out that Officer Beaird had already changed his story several times.
In interviews after the hearing, the attorney explained, “A couple days afterward, the officer filled out these affidavits saying my client bled on their officers’ uniforms, which later he denied that that ever occurred. And as I stated at the argument in the trial, he had a different story that he just filled out those affidavits at the instruction of a sergeant. So he changed his story multiple times.”

The attorney for the city of Ferguson and the police officers, Peter Dunne, however, claims that the whole due-process claim is a moot point, based on the fact that Davis had already accepted a plea deal.

“Regardless of what Officer Beaird personally saw, (…) none of that mattered…” (because Davis had already pleaded guilty), Dunne explained.

In a case that gets more confusing the more you dig into the laws and the minute details within, the allegations of falsifying documents aside, the 8th amendment (cruel and unusual punishment) is at the heart of this case. When a person becomes a (pretrial) detainee, that amendment essentially gives more leeway to jail staff.

What Henry Davis’ attorney’s points of law will hinge upon, are basically at what point Mr. Davis’ booking started. One side argues that as soon as the booking process starts, he’s officially a pretrial detainee. The other side argues that it begins as soon as he’s taken into custody.

The attorney for the city and the officers claims that the alleged altercation occurred, by Henry Davis’ own admission, when he was told to get into his cell and refused. Once he ignored those orders, ‘the question of whether any force could be used disappears,’ claims Dunne.

The case basically comes down to a ‘he said/they said’ and specific and detailed rules of law, as well as precise timing of what happened, when it happened, and how the interpretations of constitutional amendments carry out.

Confused much?

The moral of the story: Stay home. Don’t breathe. Don’t drive in the rain. Don’t visit anyone, anywhere. Don’t bleed – especially anywhere near a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and don’t, under any circumstances, pause at any moment when instructed to do something.

[*Initiating sarcasm shutdown sequence*]