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Davis v. White

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

June 9, 2017

Henry M. Davis Plaintiff- Appellant
v.
Michael White, in his individual capacity; City of Ferguson, Missouri; John Beaird; Kim Tihen Defendants - Appellees

          Submitted: January 11, 2017

         Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - St. Louis

          Before RILEY, Chief Judge [1] , LOKEN, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.

          BENTON, Circuit Judge.

         Henry M. Davis sued the City of Ferguson and three police officers, alleging they beat him while he was handcuffed. See Davis v. White, 794 F.3d 1008 (8th Cir. 2015). His claims were tried to a jury after the district court[2] denied his Batson challenge to the officers' peremptory strike of the only remaining African-American venireperson, refused to give an adverse inference jury instruction for spoliation of evidence, admitted hospital records from the night of the incident, and excluded emails sent by an officer not sued. The jury found for the officers. Davis appeals the pretrial rulings. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, this court affirms.

         I.

         Between 3:00 and 4:00 am on September 20, 2009, Davis was arrested for driving while intoxicated and taken to the Ferguson jail. An altercation occurred as he was being taken to a cell. Additional officers arrived as backup.

         Davis claimed Officer Michael White pushed him into the cell and slammed him against the back wall. After complying with instructions to lie down and put his hands behind his back, he was handcuffed and beaten.

         According to the officers, Davis was aggressive and resisted. White tried to control the situation, using surprise, by pushing Davis into the cell. Davis grabbed White, punched him in the face, broke his nose, then held on as White pushed him against the back wall of the cell, yelling at Davis to let go and using defensive strikes. Davis and White fell to the ground, along with Officer John J. Beaird, on top of Officer Kim R. Tihen. Tihen hit Davis on the back of his head with her handcuffs from the bottom of the pile. The officers eventually placed Davis in handcuffs.

         Davis suffered a concussion and scalp laceration. When the EMTs arrived, Davis was uncooperative and belligerent toward them, so they could not thoroughly assess him. Davis was taken to a hospital for treatment. He refused to be treated until hospital staff took photos of his injuries. According to Beaird, Davis continued to be belligerent toward the hospital staff, "cussing and screaming" at them and refusing treatment. He returned to the Ferguson jail without being treated.

         The cells at the jail are under video surveillance. In September 2009 the system used video tapes to record each 24-hour period starting at 7:00 am. The tapes were marked with the day the recording began. Because the incident occurred before 7:00 am, it was on the tape marked "9/19/09" rather than the one marked "9/20/09." When the officer in charge of the video system, Sergeant William J. Mudd, was told to preserve the recording of the incident, he preserved only the tape marked "9/20/09, " so the tape containing video of the incident was not preserved and most likely was recorded over. Mudd testified it did not occur to him to preserve the September 19 tape in order to get the video from the early morning of September 20.

         During jury selection, the officers used a peremptory strike on the only remaining African-American venireperson. Davis made a Batson challenge, which the district court denied.

         At trial, the court admitted hospital records over Davis's objections. The district court also excluded racist emails sent and received by Mudd, which Davis offered as proof of Mudd's bias against African-Americans.

         Davis moved to sanction the officers for spoliation of evidence, requesting an adverse inference instruction based on the failure to preserve the ...


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