Last October, a South Bend Common Councilman led police on a pursuit—of sorts.
Henry Davis, Jr. made headlines when he was the elusive target of a traffic stop on Western Avenue.
“You almost feel like you’re being, somebody’s taking something away from you, if how I felt, it was like all of, everything I knew that was just and what America says this is the land of the free, at that moment felt like I had absolutely no recourse,” Henry Davis, Jr. said.
On the night in question, Councilman Davis was detained by police for about 50-minutes, at which time he was told he’d be booked for resisting arrest, and that he was suspected of drunk driving.
With the criminal case against him now closed—Davis today agreed to share his copy of the police dash cam recording with WNDU.
It all begins with a car chase that is pretty tame. The pursuit lasts about a minute and a half. The cars involved are all going the speed limit. All the traffic lights are green and the car being pursued actually uses its turn signals and later, emergency flashers.
When Councilman Davis does stop his car for police, both he and his father, Henry Davis, Sr. are handcuffed and placed into the back seats of separate squad cars.
“What did I do?” asks Henry Davis, Sr. on the recording. “Settle down, hold on, we’ll tell you in a minute, OK?” replies an officer.
“I’m going to actually ask that the board of public safety do an investigation about the mishandling or the procedures that were, that I think were stepped on and stepped over,” Henry Davis, Jr. told News Center 16 today.
Yesterday, Henry Davis, Jr. and his father each paid a $1 fine to close the legal case against them. Both admitted that they failed to yield to an emergency vehicle during the incident. Both pleaded guilty to an infraction—that essentially amounted to a traffic ticket. The special prosecutor in the case determined that criminal charges were warranted because the men were not trying to elude police.
Today, Henry Davis, Jr. said he was willing to stop, but only at a place that was well lit and in plain view of others. “I think it was an intimidation factor that was put in play, I truly think that.”
Davis was coming home from a council meeting at which he voted against a contract agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police. Davis had earlier written a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice asking for an independent probe into the South Bend Police Department.
On the recording a police officer asks Henry Davis, Jr. “So why does it take you 20 something blocks to pull over? Because I told you y’all got me nervous out here and paranoid, completely paranoid,” replies Davis. “I am being sued by police officers that are not friends with me, that are friends of any of you, I don’t know who you’re friends with.”
On the recording, one officer assures Davis that there is no ulterior motive. “To be honest with you, I’m not part of the FOP, I’m not part of any of all that fun stuff, I haven’t been reading the papers,” the officer says. “Personally, I think they’re making everybody, making the department and the city look like a joke.”
Davis says he still hasn’t been given a good reason why he was stopped on the night in question, perhaps leaving him to imagine the worse.
“Ten o’clock at night, I think he’s been drinking, might have been a ‘closed door meeting,’ says one officer on the tape.
On the recording, officers decide not to arrest Henry Davis, Jr. at the scene, telling him a report would be filed and the final decision would rest with the prosecutor’s office.
Henry Davis, Sr. was arrested at the scene for Reckless Driving.