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Investigator Exclusive: Cleveland man compares alleged beating to Rodney King's

10:37 AM, Feb 7, 2011   |    comments
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"Some of the officers may have exhibited some inappropriate conduct that, if proven true, are severe consequences for that kind of action," Cleveland Safety Director Martin Flask said.

Flask confirmed that a police internal investigation is underway into the Jan. 1 incident.

Henderson spoke exclusively with the Investigator Tom Meyer inside the Cuyahoga County jail where's he's being held on charges of assault and refusal to obey a police order.

He said as many as three officers were delivering blows to his head, using their knees. In a desperate attempt to make them stop, he made up a story about being HIV positive.

He says an officer called him a derogatory gay name and another cautioned fellow cops about Henderson's blood. "This officer stated, and I'll never forget it.  He said, 'I don't care. It's tasty,' and he was talking about my blood," Henderson said.

According to a police report, Henderson was driving a minivan late at night when he came dangerously close to hitting some officers who were investigating another motorist during a traffic stop.

Police approached Henderson's vehicle on foot at a nearby traffic light and told him to pull over. Henderson says he had no idea they were officers.

"I panicked and took off. I was fearful. I didn't know it was an officer beating on my window," Henderson said.

A high-speed chase followed, with both police vehicles and the police helicopter in pursuit of Henderson. Henderson said he eventually pulled over near the downtown area and voluntarily got out of his vehicle and obeyed police commands.

The police helicopter videotaped Henderson's arrest, but police will not release the video because of the ongoing investigation.

Flask said its been sent to an outside expert to be enhanced.

Lawyers for Henderson filed a motion in court, asking a judge to allow a deposition to be taken of the officer or officers most knowledgeable about the existence of, and security measures related to, the safekeeping of the video.

"The tapes of, in this case, public police activity should immediately be released in the name of transparency and democracy," attorney David Malik said.

Henderson was hospitalized for three days.

"I had a shattered eye socket. They had to re-attach my eyeball. I have a broken nose," Henderon said.

"Nobody deserves the kind of beating that he took for any purpose. This guy was more helpless than Rodney King. King at least had his hands to block blows," Henderson's lawyer Daniel Chaplin said.

Rodney King made headlines 20 years ago when he was viciously beaten by members of the Los Angeles police department. Henderson said that, while he was being attacked, he told police that the chopper was above and possibly recording his arrest.

He said an officer told him, "Oh no, we're going to edit that. You were in an accident."

Flask said he has not seen the video, but the police chief has and expressed concerns.

"The inappropriate conduct, and what we've seen so far, would include excessive force," Flask said.

Henderson has a criminal record, with his most recent conviction being six years ago for domestic violence and assault.

"Why should I constantly be convicted of my past? You make amends and you move on," Henderson said.

Police are also investigating whether other officers stood by and did nothing as Henderson was allegedly assaulted.

"Excessive force shall not be tolerated and officers have the responsibility that, if they see it, they should intervene and prevent it from happening," Flask said.

WKYC-TV

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