GALVESTON, TX — After doing what he thought was the responsible thing, a man napping by the side of the road found himself being savagely beaten by police and almost drowned in the surf. He is now suing the city, as well as two officers involved in the incident, in federal court.
Reginald Deon Davis, 34, was returning to his home in La Marque after a friend’s birthday party early in the morning of March 19th when he decided that he was too exhausted to drive any further. Pulling his car over to the seawall, Davis let his wife know he would be late coming home and dozed off. Unfortunately for Davis, it is against city ordinance to sleep in a car without a camping permit. Around 1:45AM, Officer Jose Santos, one of the officers named in the lawsuit, found Davis sleeping and asked him to get out of his vehicle.
This was a tough spot for Davis to be in, as he had two strikes and some outstanding traffic violations. After being searched and asked to stand by the patrol car, Davis fled on foot. Officers reported that they believed Davis was trying to dispose of some evidence into the ocean, but Davis maintains that he was running in fear of losing his freedom. He was possibly facing a third strike, which could mean an exorbitant prison sentence.
Officer Santos fired a taser to subdue Davis before tackling him and holding him in the sand. Soon more officers arrived and began surrounding Davis, punching and kicking him in the head and holding his head submerged in the tide, commanding him to put his hands behind his back. At the time, Davis was wearing a cast on his right arm.
“You saw at least 20 strikes. You saw at least three kicks to the face. You saw a man’s head being held under water,” Chad Pinkerton, Davis’ attorney, told CBS News. “That’s excessive force.”
Even though the beating was caught on a police dash cam, the department is standing by the actions of the officers. “Police work is dirty sometimes and our people are out there doing a tough job. And they did this within policy. Of course it looks terrible, but it is what it is, and they were making a lawful arrest,” Galveston Police Chief Henry Porretto said.
According to the local ABC affiliate, Porretto said, “Our officers were faced with a violent offender, who ran, assaulted an officer and continually resisted arrest.”
Davis served 100 days for evading arrest, but was not charged with assaulting an officer.
Why a victimless crime like sleeping in your own car needs to be enforced with such intensity as to warrant a pursuit and a beating remains unclear. The excuse of preventing the man from disposing of “evidence” only leaves us to conclude that the officers were using violence to attempt to preserve their chance at enforcing prohibition laws, of which they had no reason to believe Davis was breaking.
You can watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7Rhtepasj4