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Last Updated: Monday, 10 October 2005, 03:27 GMT 04:27 UK
New Orleans policemen suspended
By Alistair Leithead
BBC News, New Orleans

NOPD officers struggle with Robert Davis

Police in New Orleans have suspended three officers and launched a criminal investigation after a 64-year-old man was filmed being beaten in the street.

Robert Davis was being arrested for drunkenness, but a police spokesman said the amount of force used was "not appropriate".

The incident on Conti Street, in the city's French Quarter, was filmed by the Associated Press on Saturday night.

The officers, charged with battery, will appear in court at a later date.

The footage filmed by an Associated Press cameraman clearly shows Robert Davis being repeatedly punched and kicked by a group of police officers.

It took place near the busy Bourbon Street, with bars and restaurants which have recently reopened after Hurricane Katrina.

The police said the man was being arrested for public drunkenness, initially by two officers, and then a number of others joined in.

He appeared to show little aggression towards the police, who pulled him to the ground, punched and kicked him in the face.

He was handcuffed and the film clearly shows a pool of blood on the pavement as a result of his injuries.

A New Orleans police department spokesman said a criminal investigation is being launched and that three officers were being suspended on the basis of the evidence seen on the tape.

He added that the force used was not appropriate.

It is not the kind of image the already embattled police department would like to represent.

The chief recently resigned as an enquiry was launched into why 250 police officers did not appear for work the day after the storm and into isolated accusations of police carrying out looting.

Although the spokesman denied race was an issue, the fact that Mr Davis was African-American and the police were mostly white may result in accusations of racism.

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