by: Jodie Fleischer Updated:
ATLANTA - The City of Atlanta has now agreed to settle a lawsuit with the victim of a police beating first exposed by a Channel 2 Action News investigation last year.
"Just seeing that some justice has been done it was a big relief," said Clemmin Davis, nearly three years after his beating at the hands of three Atlanta police officers was recorded by a passerby.
Davis said he still can't watch the
cellphone video. He says physical and emotional pain reminds him of the encounter every day.
"It happened so quick it really, it scared me to death. I thought I was about to lose my life," Davis told Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer.
He was driving his girlfriend's car in southwest Atlanta with an expired tag. When he saw the police car behind him he pulled over, but said he got worried when his passengers took off running.
"At that point I was scared, I didn't know what to do, if [they] left weapons or drugs or anything in the vehicle," Davis said.
So he took off running also, but lost his breath and collapsed in a nearby wooded area.
The video recording shows Davis on the ground with one officer repeatedly punching him and another kicking him. He said he was trying to give himself up.
Officer Joshua Lowery was on the video but had the least interaction with Davis and received a two-day suspension.
Officer Brian Thomas admitted kicking Davis and resigned while under investigation.
Officer Nicholas Dimauro, seen punching Davis several times, was fired.
But a review board later forced the city to reduce Dimauro's firing to a 30-day suspension, and rehire him.
A Channel 2 Action News investigation last spring found 10 prior unnecessary force complaints the board never saw.
"Something should have been done about this a long time ago. And it's just outrageous to hear something like that," Davis said.
After receiving a tip that Dimauro had been rehired, Channel 2 Action News filed an open records request for all of the officers' earlier internal affairs cases.
Records showed Atlanta police had recommended firing Thomas four different times prior to the Davis incident.
Investigators had found fault with Dimauro's actions in three separate cases, once even recommending his termination. But police department higher-ups reversed those recommendations.
"We just want to give you one last chance to tell your side of things," Fleischer asked through the door of Dimauro's home. He did not respond.
Then when confronted outside the police academy, Dimauro told Channel 2, "Unfortunately all of your questions have to get referred to my union lawyer."
Dimauro's lawyer scheduled an interview, but then canceled, saying the
"record speaks for itself. "
Davis' attorneys agree.
"If you know there's really going to be no real punishment for something that you do what is there from keeping you from doing it again?" said Kyle Brooks, who joined Davis' case after the Channel 2 investigation.
He filed a federal civil rights case.
"The city is responsible, particularly in this incidence because there was such an egregious pattern of these types of activities by these particular officers," Brooks said.
Davis needed $60,000 in dental work. He's also been seeing a therapist since shortly after the beating. The city agreed to settle his case for $150,000.
Last June, Georgia's Peace Officer Standards and Training Council revoked Thomas and Dimauro's state police certifications. But Dimauro appealed again, and dragged it out long enough to reach 10 years with the department. He officially retired at age 31 in January.
But this may not be over just yet.
Davis said FBI agents interviewed him regarding the officers' actions and the Fulton County District Attorney just opened a criminal case to investigate.
"Words can't explain how blessed I am," said Davis, adding that the incident has changed his life in many ways. He's expecting to complete his GED this summer, and then start trade school. But he
said the life lesson he learned is worth even more.
"You have to say something. Because if you don't say nothing then they're just going to sweep it under the bus and keep on continuing doing what they do," Davis said.