Even if she wasn’t mentally disabled, Melissa Davis would still have no reason to believe that walking in front of a for-sale home in her neighborhood was against the law. Too bad two Marion, South Carolina police officers didn’t see it that way, though, leading to their abuse of the 40-year-old woman.
Former officers Erik Walters and Franklin Brown were finally punished for their offense on April 27, at least, but with only mild prison sentences.
On an early April 2013 morning, Sgt. Erik Walters saw Davis walking on the lawn of a for-sale home. Somehow suspecting her of possible robbery, and even though no such report had been made, Walters quickly Tasered Davis. Prosecutors later argued that Davis’ mental impairment was easily determined simply by looking at her, however, adding that she and her status were also well-known by officials throughout the small town.
After she fell from that Tasering, Walters zapped her four more times, claiming Davis didn’t respond to his instructions to put her hands behind her back. He had completed handcuffing her when Officer Franklin Brown arrived. Because he thought the handcuffs weren’t applied correctly, Brown used his Taser twice on Davis, who remained motionless throughout.
Brown then offered to release Davis if she’d let him zap her directly in the forehead, prosecutors said. He told other police that he used the Taser because he “didn’t want to touch that nasty (obscenity).”
Brown was sentenced to 18 months in prison; Walters must serve one year and one day. Both were fired from their jobs just three weeks after the incident, and both pled guilty to charges of deprivation of rights in Oct. 2014. The maximum sentence for such offense is 10 years of imprisonment, however. Brown won’t have to report to prison until he completes a current term in technical school, either.
During the sentencing procedure, 35-year-old Brown remained silent, according to the Associated Press. When Walters, 39, spoke with remorse for the incident, Davis began to sob, requiring assistance to exit the courtroom. Her sister, Loretta Baldwin, told press that Davis now has frequent nightmares about the incident, which left her with a forehead scar that makes it impossible to forget.
Baldwin has since filed suit against the Marion Police Department, seeking $2 million for her sister as compensation for the incident.