- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 12, 2005

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A 64-year-old retired teacher whose beating by city police was caught on videotape pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of being drunk and resisting arrest.

An attorney for Robert Davis said charges of public intoxication, resisting arrest, battery on a police officer and public intimidation were groundless and should be dropped. Joseph Bruno met briefly with city officials to discuss having the charges dismissed, and they agreed to continue their talks.

Mr. Davis was released on bond. A trial was set for Jan. 18, a week after the scheduled start of the trial for the officers accused of beating him.

An attorney for the officers, Frank DeSalvo, said police were trying to subdue Mr. Davis, and that their actions were justified because of Mr. Davis’ resistance. Mr. Davis had stumbled into a police horse, had slurred speech and had been belligerent toward officers before his arrest, Mr. DeSalvo said.

“I see an incident of a man trying to be brought under control who doesn’t want to be brought under control,” he said.

Mr. Davis says he had not been drinking before he was beaten by two police officers in a weekend confrontation taped by an Associated Press Television News crew. Those officers and a third accused of grabbing and shoving an APTN producer have pleaded not guilty to charges of battery.

Mr. DeSalvo said the APTN producer grabbed one of the accused officers, S.M. Smith, and spun him around before the officer responded by pushing the producer away.

Rich Matthews, the APTN producer, disputed the lawyer’s account, and said he never touched the officer.

The video shows that when Mr. Matthews held up his credentials, the officer grabbed him, leaned him backward over a car and jabbed him in the stomach. Mr. Matthews was not charged in the incident.

Mr. Davis said earlier this week that he had wandered into the French Quarter in search of cigarettes before the confrontation. He said he had approached a mounted police officer to ask about the city’s curfew.

Another officer on foot “interfered and I said he shouldn’t,” Mr. Davis said. After crossing the street, he said he was hit and eventually thrown to the pavement.

Mr. Davis suffered facial injuries when he was arrested, but Mr. DeSalvo said those occurred when an FBI agent brought him to the ground when Mr. Davis tried to flee. Officers struck Mr. Davis on the shoulders, the neck and the back of the head to subdue him, but never in the face, Mr. DeSalvo said.

Mr. Davis insists that he has not had a drink in 25 years. He and his attorney said no blood or breath tests for drunkenness were administered after Mr. Davis’ arrest.

New Orleans police said they typically do not test people arrested for public intoxication. Spokesman Marlon Defillo said judges traditionally rely on an officer’s expertise.

Mr. Davis said he had returned to New Orleans from Atlanta to inspect properties owned by family members. He said he was no longer sure he will return permanently to the city he has called home for 28 years.

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