NEW ORLEANS – Two fired New Orleans police officers and one current officer were indicted Wednesday in the videotaped beating of a retired teacher in the French Quarter last fall.
The Oct. 8 beating of Robert Davis, 64, was caught on video by an Associated Press Television News crew covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The three officers were charged with battery and other offenses.
Davis spent more than an hour testifying about the beating, which left him lying on the street, hands cuffed and blood flowing from his head and face. Afterward, he told reporters that he still has headaches and back problems and even had to interrupt his testimony to take medicine.
The retired elementary school teacher said he was "a private citizen here on business returning to my home. There was no need for what happened."
Davis said he had returned to the storm-struck city to check on his property and was looking for a place to buy cigarettes in the French Quarter when police grabbed him.
The videotape shows an officer hitting Davis at least four times on the head. Davis twisted and flailed as he was dragged to the ground by four officers. One officer kneed Davis and punched him twice.
District Attorney Eddie Jordan declined to say whether he showed the video to the grand jury, but he called it "very important" evidence.
When asked if the false imprisonment charge meant that Davis should not have been arrested, Jordan said that would be "a fair inference."
Officer Stewart Smith had ordered APTN producer Rich Matthews and the cameraman to stop recording. When Matthews held up his credentials, the officer grabbed him, jabbed him in the stomach and delivered a profanity-laced tirade.
Officers Robert Evangelist, 36, and Lance Schilling, 29, were charged with battery against Davis. Smith, 50, was charged with battery against a reporter.
Evangelist and Schilling were fired after the incident; Smith was suspended but remains with the police force.
The video also shows two FBI agents joining the police in subduing Davis. Their role is being investigated by federal officials.
A federal civil rights investigation also was launched.
"Without this videotape, I'm sure this case would be swept under the rug," said Davis' attorney, Joseph Bruno. Later, he said the case gave Davis "a sense of victory because he did nothing wrong."
Davis has pleaded not guilty to charges of public intoxication, resisting arrest, battery on a police officer and public intimidation. His lawyer said this week he expects the charges will be dropped.