Three New Orleans police officers pleaded not guilty Monday to battery charges after a weekend confrontation with a man accused of intoxication and with a TV news crew that taped it.
A videotape made by the Associated Press Television News crew shows two patrolmen repeatedly punching a man identified as 64-year-old Robert Davis. The tape shows a third officer grabbing and shoving an APTN producer.
After a brief hearing, at which trial was set for January 11, the officers were released on bond. They quickly left in cars without commenting.
They were suspended without pay Sunday, police spokesman Marlon Defillo said. The police promised a criminal investigation.
"It's a troubling tape, no doubt about it," Defillo saidб reports BBC.
The confrontations come as the department long plagued by allegations of brutality and corruption struggles with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the resignation last month of Police Superintendent Eddie Compass.
The APTN tape shows an officer hitting the suspect, Davis, at least four times in the head Saturday night outside a French Quarter bar. Davis appeared to resist, twisting and flailing as he was dragged to the ground by four officers.
Another of the officers then kneed Davis and punched him twice. Davis was face-down on the sidewalk with blood streaming down his arm and into the gutter.
Then a fifth officer ordered APTN producer Rich Matthews and the cameraman to stop recording. When Matthews held up his credentials, the officer grabbed the producer, leaned him backward over a car, jabbed him in the stomach and unleashed a profanity-laced tirade.
"I've been here for six weeks trying to keep ... alive. ... Go home!" shouted the officer, who identified himself as S.M. Smith, informs CNN.
Photo: APTN P.T.