In 2009, an African-American 52-year-old by the name of Henry Davis was unfortunate to share a name with another Henry Davis who had an outstanding arrest warrant. He missed an exit and pulled his car off the highway because the heavy rain made it difficult to drive. Missing his exit and having to wait out the oppressive rain, however, was the good part of Davis’ night.
A St. Louis County police officer pulled up behind him and ran his license plate. Davis was arrested without any explanation and taken to the Ferguson police department to be booked. One might expect Davis to receive an apology when the booking officer noted that Davis did not share a middle name or social security number with the other Henry Davis, but that would make too much sense. As an African-American, Davis is repeatedly required to prove his humanity in ‘Murika.
Davis was taken to an already-occupied one -person cell and locked up. When he objected to being placed in a cell that was not intended for multiple people and requested a mat, his night got even worse.
“I told the police officers there that I didn’t do nothing, ‘Why is you guys doing this to me?’” Davis testified in a court hearing for the lawsuit he filed against the department. “They said, ‘OK, just lay on the ground and put your hands behind your back.’”
He says he complied, and an officer rushed him and slammed him into a wall. A female officer straddled him and cuffed his hands behind his back. Two other officers entered the cell and began to beat him. The female officer, Kim Tihen, “struck [Davis] in his head with a closed fist and hit [him] in the head with handcuffs,” according to court documents.
“Kim Tihen—she was the one that was holding me up,” Davis told Mother Jones. “I was handcuffed laying on my stomach and she lifted me up like three-quarters off the ground.”
Davis was left with numerous severe facial lacerations, and an officer received a broken nose. He was taken to the hospital, where he refused treatment, but was left in this condition:
Davis was taken back to the police department and charged with four counts of property damage–because he got blood on officers’ uniforms as they were beating him.
The property damage charge was dropped after officers testified that Davis did not get blood on their uniforms and every single one of them denied hitting the man they had wrongfully arrested. Officer Michael White, whom Davis says kicked him in the head, claimed he received a bloody nose but did not observe one drop of blood on the man he denies beating. However, Davis was charged with assaulting a police officer–a felony–soon after filing his lawsuit against the police. The tape of the incident inexplicably disappeared, and that charge was dropped.
Davis’ suit was dismissed when a judge determined that his injuries were too minor to meet the standards for excessive force. His lawyer appealed the decision and expects arguments to begin in December.
Officer Tihen is no longer with the Ferguson Police Department. In 2012, she was elected to the mostly-white city council–the same council that decreed all protest must end at dusk.
Davis said of the ongoing events in Ferguson surrounding the murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, “They’re doing like they did me. For the wrongdoing they’ve done, they’re trying to say that it’s the victim’s fault.”