NEW ORLEANS - A retired elementary teacher who was repeatedly punched in the head by police in an incident caught on videotape said Monday he was not drunk, put up no resistance and was baffled by what happened.
Robert Davis said he had returned to New Orleans to check on property his family owns in the storm-ravaged city, and was out looking to buy cigarettes when he was beaten and arrested Saturday night in the French Quarter.
Police have alleged that the 64-year-old Davis was publicly intoxicated, a charge he strongly denied as he stood on the street corner where the incident played out Saturday.
"I haven't had a drink in 25 years," Davis said. He had stitches beneath his left eye, a bandage on his left hand and complained of soreness in his back and aches in his left shoulder.
A federal civil rights investigation was begun in the case. Davis is black; the three city police officers seen on the tape are white.
Just in case you've been living on a Pacific island for the last 60 years waiting for the United States Marines to throw a satchel charge into your pillbox, let me explain something to you. The only thing more destructive to New Orleans than Hurricane Katrina would be harassing or prosecuting people in the French Quarter for public intoxication. It would not be unfair to say the entire city is built upon the foundation of public intoxication, tits, and beads.
I've seen people so drunk in the French Quarter they babble incoherently, piss in their pants, and have a constant stream of vomit and saliva streaming out of their mouths. Usually I see them at an outdoor bar which serves hurricanes for those who like to walk up and down the street while drinking. Those people are their best customers.
Stopping someone for public intoxicaton in New Orleans would be like charging New Yorkers for nasaly voices, San Franciscans for bizarre clothing, or tourists in Orlando for Mickey Mouse t-shirts.
Some people have compared this beating to Rodney King. Oh, BS. Rodney King led the police on a high-speed chase when he was drunk. This is just another case of the NO PD (the most appropriate acronym in human history) abusing their authority for reasons only they understand.
The bright side is, the officers in question didn't steal any cars or loot any shoes from Wal-Mart, well, that night anyway.
If you want to reduce crime in New Orleans, disband the police department.