Man Who Could’ve Been Facing Third Strike After Being Caught Sleeping in His Car Alleges Police Brutality in Lawsuit

mugshotGalveston PDLike mandatory minimums, three strike laws were passed in an effort by politicians to appear “tough on crime” by limiting the ability of judges perceived as being too lenient from determining appropriate sentencing. Combined with anti-drug laws, such sentencing laws help keep US prisons overcrowded.

Today’s example of the intersection of drug laws, tough sentencing, and police encounters via the Houston Chronicle:

Police Chief Henry Porretto said [Reginald] Davis had been convicted on two previous drug charges and was facing a possible third strike. He said Davis grabbed something from the seat of the car and put it in his pocket before fleeing. An internal police investigation completed before Davis filed a complaint determined that officers used necessary force, Poretto said.

The lawsuit [filed by Davis] alleges that on March 19 Davis was asleep in his car on the seawall, illegal in Galveston without a camping permit. Santos allegedly awakened Davis at 1:45 a.m. and asked him to place his hands on the hood of the police car. Davis ran onto the beach, was tased and tackled as he staggered to his feet, according to the lawsuit. Davis alleges that Santos, Chapman and three other officers beat him as he lay in the surf and forced his head under water.

In the lawsuit, Davis says he was unaware of the city ordinance when he parked at the seawall to sleep after realizing he was a lot more tired than he thought.

The local ABC affiliate has more details:

"I made a mistake, I ran," Davis admitted. "I shouldn't have did that. You know, but what happened after I ran, it wasn't called for." 

…Galveston Police Chief Henry Porretto said, "Our officers were faced with a violent offender, who ran, assaulted an officer and continually resisted arrest."

Police say they believe Davis ran toward the beach to get rid of some type of evidence. Davis claims he ran because he was afraid he'd go to jail due to outstanding traffic issues.

"The offender put our officers' lives in jeopardy, and their response was appropriate," Chief Porretto insisted.

Davis was eventually charged with evading arrest and spent 100 days behind bars, according to ABC News.  Maybe Davis would’ve fled after being caught sleeping in his car absent the threat of spending the rest of his life in jail for it because of two prior drug-related offenses, but such a threat may be a more powerful motivator to flee than not to break the law, especially a city ordinance you may not even know you’re breaking.

You can watch video of the incident in the news clip below:

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    An internal police investigation completed before Davis filed a complaint determined that officers used necessary force...

    How could it help but do?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Galveston Police Chief Henry Porretto said, "Our officers were faced with a violent offender, who ran, assaulted an officer and continually resisted arrest."

    I've seen too many videos of police yelling "stop resisting" as they're brutalizing a helpless victim to believe them anymore when they say someone "continually resisted arrest".

    "Resisting arrest" appears to mean whatever the cops want it to mean.

  • WTF||

    "Resisting arrest" appears to mean whatever the cops want it to mean.

    The ghost of Kelly Thomas agrees.

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    …Galveston Police Chief Henry Porretto said, "Our officers were faced with a violent offender, who ran, assaulted an officer and continually resisted arrest."

    Police say they believe Davis ran toward the beach to get rid of some type of evidence. Davis claims he ran because he was afraid he'd go to jail due to outstanding traffic issues.

    "The offender put our officers' lives in jeopardy, and their response was appropriate," Chief Porretto insisted.

    How did he assault an officer and in what way did he endanger their lives?

  • ||

    He didn't lay motionless while being grabbed, flung on the ground, and beaten.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Assault" is another one of those funny words that seem to mean whatever the cops want it to mean.

    Assault can be brandishing a firearm.

    Assault, apparently, sometimes means giving the cops a dirty look.

    Whatever it was, if he'd actually struck out at any of the cops, they would have charged him with battery. They accused him of running and assault--but not "assault and battery".

  • Hyperion||

    Yes, it's absolutely necessary to kick someone, who is obviously completely subdued, in the head repeatedly.

    Why don't someone ask that douchebag chief how do you justify kicking someone in the face like that? Reporters these days are completely worthless sheep.

    'It is what it is'. Yep, pig brutality is what it is, asshole.

  • reason readin female||

    I was waiting for him to say "you can't handle the truth"

  • Hyperion||

    OT:

    I know this was discussed here earlier today, but the situation in Egypt is really fubar. 149 dead now, mostly unarmed civilians, killed by the military who took over in the 'coup' that no one is supposed to mention.

    This is going really well, just like all the liberals on HuffPo said it would. Arab Spring baby!

  • db||

    This is just Democracy working as it should, according to the Obama Administration.

  • MJGreen||

    Another score for Rand, another strike for Obama. (thinking about the foreign aid issue)

    But HuffPo Super Users will no doubt spin it the other way.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Don't know if the cops are guilty, but if so they are as much criminals as the guy they got - more so, because the guy didn't take training and special oath/affirmation to uphold the law.

    Don't "civilians" use the bad-person defense if the victim is a less-than-stellar character? If the only crimes they prosecuted were those where the victim was pure as the driven snow, the cops' workload would at least be cut in half.

  • Drake||

    This guy made a whole bunch of mistakes. Like running from the cops when he is the world's slowest runner.

  • Hyperion||

    That could have turned out better for him. Running faster than the pigs will get you shot.

  • Drake||

    Running toward the ocean not too smart either. Was he planning to swim to Barbados?

  • sarcasmic||

    This is why I do not believe in the mythical "good cop."

    I seriously do not believe that there is a single police officer out there who, when faced with a comrade holding an unarmed man's head underwater while beating him, would tell his comrade to lighten up. Not a one. There might exist a few who would refrain from joining in the orgy of violence, but they're either fed up and ready to quit or in the process of being forced out. But the cop who would stop another cop from beating a helpless citizen simply does not exist. I mean, that's why they seek out a job that allows them to brutalize people without consequence: so they can brutalize people without consequence.

  • The Last American Hero||

    ^this

    I keep waiting for these "heroes" to hold themselves accountable to a high standard, but I've yet to see anything other than them going straight into CYA mode.

  • sarcasmic||

    They go into CYA mode because they all break the rules. "You cover for me and when you step over the line I'll cover for you."

  • MasterDarque||

    I clearly saw him resisting while he was face down in the water

  • NeonCat||

    He was so hopped up on drugs he thought he was Aquaman, summoning the denizens of the deep to attack the nearly helpless officers who were bravely subduing him!

    They're lucky to be alive.

  • Hyperion||

    It's well known fact that a 90 lb women, if tripping on acid, can pick up a squad car filled with 6 fat pigs, and hurl it into the sea.

    /A scene we'd all like to see.

  • Gadianton||

    "The offender put our officers' lives in jeopardy, and their response was appropriate," Chief Porretto insisted.

    So by running away, he put officer lives in jeopardy, and the appropriate response was to hold his head underwater.

    Makes perfect sense to me.

  • Hyperion||

    And don't forget to check the official pig guide book, if anyone is rendered motionless with their head under water, the next appropriate procedure is to repeatedly kick the person in the head. This will keep them from falling asleep and possibly drowning.

  • sarcasmic||

    Waterboarding, as in giving the false sensation of drowning, is torture. But actually holding a person's face underwater is just another day at the office if your job is to serve and protect.

  • Ken Shultz||

    They were just helping him look for the evidence he might have thrown away, I'm sure.

    Do you see it there?

    Do you see it now?!

  • The Last American Hero||

    We just keep forgetting about totality of the circumstances.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "It is a fair summary of history to say that the safeguards of liberty have frequently been forged in controversies involving not very nice people." Flix Frankfurter, U.S. v. Rabinowitz, 339 U.S. 56, 69 (1950)

  • Ken Shultz||

    Who the fuck is Felix Frankfurter?

    He sounds like Hamburgler's partner in crime!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    His cousin was Frank 'n Furter, but he didn't like to talk about it.

    Alternate joke: He was a judge who *relished* his work.

    (Just be glad nobody mentioned that he was from Vienna - or in German, a Wiener.)

  • sarcasmic||

    When he got angry did he turn into Sour Crout?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Kraut

  • ||

    Maybe Davis would’ve fled after being caught sleeping in his car absent the threat of spending the rest of his life in jail for it because of two prior drug-related offenses, but such a threat may be a more powerful motivator to flee than not to break the law, especially a city ordinance you may not even know you’re breaking.

    While drug laws are bullshit, I'm a big fan three strike laws.

    Sure a person can make one mistake, but if he demonstrates a willingness to repetitively violate the rights of others, he shouldn't be afforded the opportunity to do so.

  • db||

    I'm not sure why cops should be given three chances to stop violating people's rights before being sent to prison for life. They should be held to a higher standard.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I would be for 3-strikes laws for violent felonies.

    You can't stop yourself from shooting at people, robbing them, and breaking into occupied dwellings? Then get govt-supplied housing apart from the general public!

  • sarcasmic||

    I don't even like the idea of jail/prison for most crimes. Humans are hardwired to avoid pain and public humiliation. That's why I think the whipping post and stocks should be brought back.
    Do you think that kid who got caned in Singapore will ever spray paint a car again?
    Do you think he would have learned his lesson if he'd been sent to jail instead?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Interesting argument - if it would put someone on the straight and narrow, go for it.

    One difficulty is that public whipping will get denounced as racist by the Jesse Jackson types.

  • sarcasmic||

    It would be considered cruel and unusual.

    But somehow locking someone in a cage while subjecting them to random beatings and acts of sodomy is not.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    "Do you think that kid who got caned in Singapore will ever spray paint a car again?"

    You agree with caning a kid that spray-paints a car? I'd prefer community service and paying back the owner/insurance company over caning or jail.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'd prefer community service and paying back the owner/insurance company over caning or jail.

    Too easy to weasel out of that. A rich daddy with connections could get him a joke of a "community service" job and handle the restitution, and the kid learns nothing.

    Cane his ass. He'll learn not to spray paint cars again.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    If that works in keeping him on the straight and narrow, it works me.

    If he keeps committing the same crimes, prison would be the best way to protect the public.

    To me, of course, since prison is a nastier punishment than a public beating, I would be open to alternative punishments, but someone who has repeatedly shown, by violent felonies, that he's a danger to the public, prison should be the (regretful) solution.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Do you think that kid who got caned in Singapore will ever spray paint a car again?

    You know he came back to the US immediately afterward, where that punishment doesn't apply... so if I had to bet I'd say he spraypainted everything he could find. (it's been 20+ years of course since that incident, so hopefully he's wiser now)

    Didn't he get a reduced punishment in Singapore due to the diplomatic incident? Only 10 whacks instead of 50 or something?

  • ||

    I was the victim of an ex-felon. Partly my fault as I didn't run a background check prior to hiring him as a contractor. Turned out to be a con-man who took us for $30K. Does it over and over. Tried to have him prosecuted, but here they won't criminally prosecute (if you had a contract with him) until after you've won a civil case. He has no money, so it will cost me 20K in attorney fees to recover nothing.

    THAT piece of shit should be isolated from society.

  • sarcasmic||

    He should have been tied to a whipping post and lashed until he cried like a little girl, then locked in stocks where people could mock him.

    Pain and public humiliation. We should take advantage of the fact that we're hardwired to avoid it.

  • Hyperion||

    It's amazing what some people will do who seem to have it very good in life.

    I have a friend whose brother is part owner of a business that hired a CFO, and they were paying the guy more than 100k a year and with a lot of perks.

    That lasted for about a year when they discovered that a lot of money was mysteriously missing.

    They hired an accountant to look at the books, and this guy then just confessed to stealing more than 90k from the company.

    I guess he said that he had to do it to pay his gambling debts.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Sure a person can make one mistake, but if he demonstrates a willingness to repetitively violate the rights of others, he shouldn't be afforded the opportunity to do so.

    Except that a guy who was caught growing weed for himself for a 3rd time goes to prison for life. 3 strikes laws are an abomination.

  • ||

    I did preface my comment with:

    While drug laws are bullshit
  • Agile Cyborg||

    " I'm a big fan three strike laws."

    Only a dictatorial and rigid mind can appreciate three-strike laws. This type of sentencing is harsh and unjust particularly when one considers just how many laws an individual can break at any given time.

  • ||

    You'll sing another tune when you get violated by some piece of shit who's done the exact same thing to five guys before you.

  • sarcasmic||

    One of the duties of government is to react to the initiation of force and fraud. The fact that the justice system provides no justice in your being defrauded doesn't mean the guy should be locked up for life. It means he should have been tied to the whipping post the first time and made to pay restitution, and then there wouldn't have been a second time. Or a fifth.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Then bitch about the judges who didn't give them long sentences. Three strikes laws aren't the answer.

  • Calidissident||

    I don't disagree in theory, but oftentimes some of the strikes can be for things that either shouldn't be crimes or aren't things that should result in life in prison

  • ||

    3 strikes is great if it's the same crime three times. Not so great if your "3rd offense" is sleeping in your fucking car.

  • Hyperion||

    I think that what is worse than 3 strikes for things like drug convictions, is the fact that these days a person who may have committed some minor offense 20+ years ago, that can affect their ability to get a job, and many other things because the record remains forever. At least for minor offenses, those records should be purged after so long. How can punishing someone forever not be cruel and unusual?, unless it's a life sentence for murder, of course.

  • ||

    And it's self perpetuating. Having a felony record prevents them from getting a job so they turn back to crime. Not sure what the answer is? Maybe sarc is right, but I suspect caning wouldn't be a real deterrent for many.

    Maybe if they were forced to work to repay what they've stolen, but I doubt it would be enforceable.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    "Police work is dirty sometimes. They did this within policy. It looks terrible, but it is what is."

    If police work is dirty, what separates the cops from the criminals?

  • sarcasmic||

    Cops have more reinforcements, which gives them the last word in violence. Other than that, not much.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    It would seem that evil retreats when forcibly confronted.

    -- Yarnek of Excalbia, "The Savage Curtain", stardate 5906.5

  • R C Dean||

    How is running away from someone putting their life in jeopardy, again?

  • MappRapp||

    Bobby Jo says that will work out quite well.

    www.Tactical-Anon.tk

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Davis was asleep in his car on the seawall, illegal in Galveston without a camping permit. Santos allegedly awakened Davis at 1:45 a.m. and asked him to place his hands on the hood of the police car move along since camping is illegal.

    There, fixed it for you, Officer Thug.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Certainly would have been a better response, but given Mr Davis' skin color, you know it's not going to work out like that.

    That said, how stupid would you have to be to think you can sleep in your car on a public road without police harassment, at the least. While the cops were totally out of line and should be prosecuted for the beating, Mr Krayewski is being quite credulous about Davis' story.

  • AlgerHiss||

    One of the many tricks a “police officer” might use is when a couple of them are near the person they wish to control, will be them screaming the obligatory “stop resisting” while one of them had twisted or pinched the person on the thigh or elsewhere, so that the person naturally reacts by jumping about.

    That way, and of course all of this is done for the dash-cam, the person was clearly resisting.

    You will trust the modern day “police officer” at your peril.

  • Agoraphobic||

    So...if you drive exhausted and it affects your driving, you can be charged with a crime. But if you realize that you're too tired to drive and do the smart thing and pull over to catch a nap, you can also be charged with a crime. Damned if you do...

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