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Last Updated: Monday, 10 October 2005, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
New Orleans officers 'not guilty'
NOPD officers struggle with Robert Davis

Three New Orleans policemen have pleaded not guilty in a criminal investigation launched after they were filmed beating a 64-year-old man.

Robert Davis was being arrested for drunkenness on Conti Street, in the city's French Quarter.

But a police spokesman said the amount of force used was "not appropriate".

The incident was filmed by an Associated Press cameraman on Saturday night. The three officers were suspended and charged with battery.

The footage clearly shows Mr Davis being repeatedly punched and kicked by a group of policemen.

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

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

Pool of blood

The man was being arrested 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 shows a pool of blood on the pavement as a result of his injuries.

The BBC's Alistair Leithead in New Orleans says it is not the kind of image the already embattled police department would like to represent.

The city's police chief Eddie Compass resigned last month as an enquiry was launched into why 250 officers did not appear for work the day after Hurricane Katrina and into isolated accusations of policemen carrying out looting.

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