The officers got the wrong man, but charged him anyway—with getting his blood on their uniforms. How the Ferguson PD ran the town where Michael Brown was gunned down.
Police in Ferguson, Missouri, once charged a man with destruction of property for bleeding on their uniforms while four of them allegedly beat him.
“On and/or about the 20th day of Sept. 20, 2009 at or near 222 S. Florissant within the corporate limits of Ferguson, Missouri, the above named defendant did then and there unlawfully commit the offense of ‘property damage’ to wit did transfer blood to the uniform,” reads the charge sheet.
The address is the headquarters of the Ferguson Police Department, where a 52-year-old welder named Henry Davis was taken in the predawn hours on that date. He had been arrested for an outstanding warrant that proved to actually be for another man of the same surname, but a different middle name and Social Security number.
“I said, ‘I told you guys it wasn’t me,’” Davis later testified.
He recalled the booking officer saying, “We have a problem.”
“I told the police officers there that I didn’t do nothing, ‘Why is you guys doing this to me?’” Davis testified. “They said, ‘OK, just lay on the ground and put your hands behind your back.’”
Davis said he complied and that a female officer straddled and then handcuffed him. Two other officers crowded into the cell.
“They started hitting me,” he testified. “I was getting hit and I just covered up.”
“He ran in and kicked me in the head,” Davis recalled. “I almost passed out at that point… Paramedics came… They said it was too much blood, I had to go to the hospital.”
A patrol car took the bleeding Davis to a nearby emergency room. He refused treatment, demanding somebody first take his picture.
“I wanted a witness and proof of what they done to me,” Davis said.
He was driven back to the jail, where he was held for several days before he posted $1,500 bond on four counts of “property damage.” Police Officer John Beaird had signed complaints swearing on pain of perjury that Davis had bled on his uniform and those of three fellow officer“ After Mr. Davis was detained, did you have any blood on you?” asked Davis’ lawyer, James Schottel.
“No, sir,” Beaird replied.
Schottel showed Beaird a copy of the “property damage” complaint.
“Is that your signature as complainant?” the lawyer asked.
“It is, sir,” the cop said.
“And what do you allege that Mr. Davis did unlawfully in this one?” the lawyer asked.
“Transferred blood to my uniform while Davis was resisting,” the cop said.
“And didn’t I ask you earlier in this deposition if Mr. Davis got blood on your uniform?”
“You did, sir.”
“And didn’t you respond no?”
“Correct. I did.”