GALVESTON, Texas (CN) - Galveston police Tasered and beat a man they chased onto the beach and "forcibly submerged" his head in the tide while kicking him in the head - because he was sleeping in his car, the man claims in court.
Reginald Deon Davis sued Galveston and its police Officers Archie Chapman Jr. and Jose H. Santos Jr., in Federal Court.
"On March 19, 2013, at or around 1:00 a.m., Reginald Deon Davis left the Denny's Restaurant located at 14th Street along the seawall in Galveston, Texas," the complaint states. "Mr. Davis traveled to Galveston that night to attend a friend's birthday party, and following the party he went to Denny's to fit in some last minute studying before a college exam the next morning. Shortly after departing Denny's to go back to his home in La Marque, Mr. Davis realized he was extremely exhausted and decided to pull his car over on the seawall and rest before driving home. Upon pulling over, Mr. Davis called his wife to let her know he would be home later than expected, and shortly thereafter he fell asleep in his car. Unbeknownst to Mr. Davis, it is a violation of Galveston city ordinance to sleep in one's vehicle without a camping permit.
"At or around 1:45 a.m., Mr. Davis was awoken in his vehicle by Galveston Police Department Officer Jose Santos. Mr. Davis complied with Officer Santos's request that he exit his vehicle and allow Officer Santos to search his person. Shortly thereafter, Officer Santos requested permission to search Mr. Davis's vehicle, and he instructed Mr. Davis to put his hands on the hood of Officer Santos's police vehicle while he performed the search.
"Fearing that he may be arrested, Mr. Davis fled on foot to the beach area just below the seawall, and Officer Santos pursued on foot. Upon information and belief, Officer Santos discharged his Taser, striking Mr. Davis in the back and knocking him to the ground. Mr. Davis stumbled to his feet before quickly being tackled by Officer Santos, who held Mr. Davis face down on the sand at the edge of the water. From a video taken from a police dash camera, it is clear that Officer Santos was able to restrain Mr. Davis, who is seen lying on his stomach and does not appear to resist until a wave from the rising tide submerges his face under water. At this point, another officer, who is believed to be Officer Archie Chapman, appears in the video and immediately kicks Mr. Davis in the head multiple times and even appears to purposefully submerge Mr. Davis's face under water. Then, both officers proceed to strike Mr. Davis's head numerous times with their fists.
"As Officers Santos and Chapman assaulted Mr. Davis, three more officers arrived on scene, and Mr. Davis received more blows from these officers while simultaneously having his head forcibly submerged under water at different times.
"Mr. Davis does not appear to resist until it becomes clear that he is in fear of drowning. In fact, during this entire incident, Mr. Davis can be heard yelling 'I can't breathe' and 'You're trying to drown me.' While beating him, the officers continue to tell Mr. Davis not to resist, but the video clearly shows that Mr. Davis was forced to resist to avoid drowning from his head being forced under water. Eventually, the officers handcuffed Mr. Davis and escorted him from the beach. Pictures of Mr. Davis after his arrest show significant bruising and swelling to his face, and his arm, which was visibly injured prior to his arrest, appears to have been put in a sling. Since the incident, Mr. Davis has continued to have difficulty sleeping at night due to headaches and other post-concussion-like syndromes, and he has also had to seek treatment for injuries to his arm, neck, shoulders and back."
Davis claims Galveston police have a long history of brutality.
"As of 2005, there were more than fifty-four such complaints pending against the Galveston Police Department. The complaints of excessive force since 2005 have continued and have been numerous and well publicized," the complaint states.
Davis seeks damages for civil rights violations and excessive force.
He is represented by Chad Pinkerton of Houston.