One Victim's Story Reveals Ferguson Police's Dark History of Brutality

If you thought the stories out of Ferguson, Mo., couldn’t get more ridiculous, one previous case of police misconduct is going to floor you.

Back in 2009, according to the Daily Beast, police in Ferguson approached a 52-year-old man named Henry Davis in his car after running his license plate, saying there was a warrant out for his arrest. The warrant was for a different Henry Davis, but that didn’t stop the cops from tossing him in jail for the night.

In the cell, Davis later testified, police officers beat him until he was bleeding so much he had to be taken to the hospital by paramedics:

"He ran in and kicked me in the head. I almost passed out at that point… Paramedics came… They said it was too much blood, I had to go to the hospital."

After the hospital stay, he was brought back to jail for four counts of "property damage" — the officers involved had charged him for bleeding on their uniforms.

(For more painful details, check out the full anger-inducing Daily Beast article.)

It gets worse: You might be thinking that it doesn't get much lower than allegedly beating an innocent man and charging him for getting blood on your clothes. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong again.

As the Daily Beast investigation notes, the officers in question were deposed when Davis filed a lawsuit over the beating. In court, each testified that they did not actually get any blood on their uniforms.

Further problems: The Davis arrest and the Michael Brown shooting weren't isolated cases either. As the Washington Post explains, systemic racial discrimination has pervaded the police force in Ferguson for years.

A Missouri attorney general report last year said that 86% of traffic stops made by Ferguson police were for black drivers. The population of Ferguson is about two-thirds black. More than 90% of traffic stop arrests involved black drivers.

This problem is not unique to Ferguson. The state attorney general also said that black drivers were 66% more likely to be stopped in all of Missouri than white drivers, according to the Washington Post. But the report sheds light on simmering problems that came to a head in the protests and ensuing crackdown following Brown's death.

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Matt Connolly

Matt has written for Mother Jones, the Washington Examiner and Chicago Public Radio among many others. He's a resident of Washington, D.C., but much like Bruce Springsteen and pork roll he is a product of New Jersey.

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