GALVESTON, Texas - A La Marque man has filed a lawsuit against the City of Galveston after he said he was badly beaten by police officers back on March 19.
Video from a Galveston police officer's dash cam shows a violent confrontation between several officers and Reginald Davis on the beach.
Davis' attorney Chad Pinkerton says the dash cam video from another patrol car shows his client being kicked in the face and repeatedly punched while his head was underwater.
"I thought I was going to die," said Davis. "My head was underwater. I couldn't breathe."
On Monday, Pinkerton filed a lawsuit claiming Galveston police officers Jose Santos and Archie Chapman used excessive force.
"If you evade arrest they can capture you and they can stop you. That's what they had to do. They can do that. But they can't beat you. They can't attempt to drown you," Pinkerton said.
Davis, 34, says what happened that night has injured him physically and emotionally and he still has nightmares.
According to the suit, Davis was in Galveston that night to attend a friend's birthday party. After the party, Davis went to the Denny's on 14th Street to do some "last minute studying" for a college test that he had the next morning.
After leaving Denny's, the lawsuit says Davis realized he was tired and pulled his car over to rest before driving home to La Marque. Davis then fell asleep in his car.
The City of Galveston has a city ordinance in place that prohibits sleeping in a vehicle without a camping permit.
The suit shows that at around 1:45 a.m., Davis was awoken by a Galveston police officer. He was asked to exit the vehicle so he could be searched. Davis says he was also told to put his hands on the hood so the officer could also search his vehicle.
According to the filing, Davis fled to the nearby beach because he feared that he would be arrested. The officer ran after him and used his Taser to knock Davis to the ground. When Davis stood up, he alleges he was tackled by the officer and his face was held down in the sand near the water.
In the video, Davis can be heard yelling "I can't breathe" and "you're trying to drown me."
Davis was eventually handcuffed and arrested.
The Galveston police chief stands behind the officers, saying they were dealing with a twice-convicted felon, and that their response to the resistance stopped once Davis was handcuffed.
"The event occurred due to the actions of the suspect and our officers responded appropriately to a dangerous situation and we are supportive of their actions," said Galveston Police Chief Henry Porretto.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for Davis, but his attorney says this isn't about the money -- he wants those two officers off of the force and to be criminally prosecuted.
Davis' attorney says the other officers besides Santos and Chapman weren't identified, even though he did ask for their names.
"What i see is their reaction in direct proportion to his action," said Mark Stephens, private investigator.
Stephens is retired, decorated veteran of the Houston Police Department with experience with more that 300 police pursuits and experience investigating police corruption.
Stephens looked at the videotape and believed the actions of the officers were within the law and are not excessive force.
"There is a level of resistance that they have to match and overcome to affect the arrest," said Stephens.
The video also caught a couple of conversations between the officers after Davis was led away from the beach.
The Galveston County district's attorney's office said its investigation, in conjunction with the Texas Rangers, began long before the release of the video.
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