The retired New Orleans school teacher who was repeatedly punched by police in an incident caught on videotape says he was not drunk and never resisted arrest.
Robert Davis, 64, was beaten by four New Orleans police officers in the French Quarter on Saturday night. Police have alleged Davis was intoxicated.
"I don't drink," Davis said today in an interview with "Good Morning America."
"I haven't drank for over 25 years and I'm proud to say that."
Davis said he was in New Orleans to check on his family property and was merely asking a police officer about buying cigarettes when he claims they attacked him.
"After I had communicated with them I proceeded to walk away," Davis said of his initial interaction with the police officers, one of whom was patrolling the area on a horse. "I was getting ready to go around the horse, go down to the store that was not too far from there and what happened is the guy came by and sucker-punched me and hit me in the eye and threw me up against the wall.
"I never saw it coming," he said, adding that his family has kept him from watching the video of the attack.
Davis was hospitalized with possible skull fractures and may need surgery. He is suing the department for his injuries.
Davis said he would like to find a women who can be seen on the tape trying to intervene.
"I do remember there was a white lady in the crowd screaming, 'The man didn't do anything. The man didn't do anything. Stop!,'" Davis said. "I would like to thank her for her intervention."
A New Orleans police spokesman said the department did not condone the beating, but added that officers were under tremendous stress. Many have lost their homes, are exhausted and have been working for weeks in trying conditions.
"It was not in line with the department policies and procedures," said Capt. Marlon Defillo. "It was not in line with the department's training."
Two officers accused in the beating and a third accused of grabbing and shoving an Associated Press Television News producer pleaded not guilty Monday to battery charges. Officers Lance Schilling, Robert Evangelist and S.M. Smith were released on bond. They were suspended without pay on Sunday.
The U.S. Justice Department also has opened a civil rights investigation. Davis is black; the three city police officers seen on the tape are white. But Davis and police officials have said they don't believe race was a factor.
Trial on the state charges is set for Jan. 11.