Deputies' brutal takedown costs Genesee County $630,000

FLINT, MI (WXYZ) - A brutal takedown caught on tape in the Genesee County Jail will cost the county $630,000 following a settlement agreement.

The altercation, and cops' conflicting testimony about how and why it happened, were the subject of a 7 Action News investigations in July.

The payout comes after a lawsuit was filed by Fernando Davis, who was arrested in 2009 after drinking and getting behind the wheel. He says he deserved to be arrested that night, but not what happened next. 

"To be beaten like that, no.  No one should ever be beaten," Davis said.

Surveillance video from that night shows Davis was first brought to a holding cell with other inmates, but after a few minutes, and without explanation, he was moved into his own isolation cell.

Once inside, he appears to be listening to the officers. It's difficult to tell if he’s talking because the cameras recorded no audio. After a few seconds, Davis steps forward, putting his hands against the wall when, suddenly, deputies swarm him. They can be seen forcefully taking Davis to the ground. 

In reports and testimony, they would later acknowledge pepper spraying him and delivering hand and knee strikes to his body, saying Davis was resisting them. But judges who reviewed the surveillance video didn’t see it that way.

Davis sued in federal court and now, Genesee County has agreed to settle the case.  As part of the settlement, the sheriffs department admits no wrongdoing

"That check and that amount explains that they know they did something wrong, but they’ll never admit it," said attorney Daniel Romano, who represents Davis.

"I guarantee the officers will not be reprimanded and nothing will happen to them, but it will help the next person and it shows that there’s a pattern and practice of this going on."

Davis has undergone a series of surgeries since the altercation with deputies. He walks with a cane, and he’s just started treatment for pain in his neck.  Romano says he’s confident he would have prevailed had the case gone to a jury, but Davis’s medical bills were piling up and he didn’t have time to wait.

"So the deputies who did this are still there. They’ve admitted no wrongdoing. What have you accomplished with this settlement?" asked Channel 7's Ross Jones.

"These officers now have a blight on their record which is more than just, this guy said this and we were sued. This guy said this, we were sued and the county paid $630,000," Romano said.

"That’s not a small amount of money. That’s an admission of wrong, even if they’re not admitting it."

Genesee County Undersheriff Chris Swanson said the department had no comment on the settlement.

Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at rjones@wxyz.com or at (248) 827-9466.


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