New Orleans Police Officers Plead Not Guilty to Beating
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
The New Orleans Police Department has a new problem. Today three officers were charged with battery after they were caught on videotape beating a man in the French Quarter. From New Orleans, NPR's Greg Allen has the story.
GREG ALLEN reporting:
The incident happened Saturday night. A videotape made by AP Television News shows police arresting 64-year-old Robert Davis outside a bar in the French Quarter. On the tape, two New Orleans police officers are seen repeatedly punching him. At one point an officer is shown kneeing Davis, who's lying on the ground. A few minutes later one of the officers accosts an AP producer, ordering him to stop recording. The most graphic tape was recorded by a cameraman from CNN, who was staying in a room nearby. That tape shows Davis handcuffed, lying on the ground in a pool of blood. Davis was charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest. He was treated at a hospital and released.
New Orleans police also took quick action against the officers. On Sunday, the day after the beating, three police officers involved in the incident were suspended without pay, and today they were charged and released on bond. All three pleaded not guilty to battery charges. Captain Marlon Defillo is a police spokesman.
Captain MARLON DEFILLO (Spokesman, New Orleans Police Department): We believe that Mr. Davis, who is the man they were arresting, did resist to some degree. The concern that we had was the amount of force used by the officers to subdue Mr. Davis. Equally as concerning was the third officer, who confronted the Associated Press producer and physically handled him. Certainly that was unprofessional.
ALLEN: As tough as Hurricane Katrina has been on New Orleans, there may be no institution that has struggled more than the city police department. During the storm, hundreds of officers left their posts. They'll face possible disciplinary action. In addition, the department is investigating a dozen officers suspected of looting or failing to stop looters during Katrina's aftermath. And Louisiana's attorney general is looking into allegations that during the storm New Orleans police officers broke into a car dealership and took some 200 cars. Greg Allen, NPR News, New Orleans.
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