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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Arrest injures man, 81

Arm broken at home; police probe incident


The Commercial Appeal, May 24, 2006
By Yolanda Jones

David Bland, 81, sat in his hospital bed at the Regional Medical Center at Memphis Tuesday cupping his shattered right wrist.

Bland's arm was broken last Friday while he was being arrested by three Memphis police officers in his apartment in the Memphis Towers at 1081 Court.

Police officials said the incident is being investigated by Internal Affairs.

According to an affidavit, an officer responding to a complaint of loud music was "in fear for his safety" after the blind and partially deaf senior citizen did not respond to a request to turn down the radio.

Bland was charged with assault, disorderly conduct, resisting official detention and unlawful possession of a pistol.

"Yeah, I play my radio loud cause I can't hardly hear now," said Bland. "I love to listen to the Cubs games and you know I love our hometown Grizzlies."

Bland, who is scheduled to have surgery on his arm today, said he was still trying to make sense of the incident.

"My door was open because I was waiting on the MIFA man to bring me a meal," he said.

"When he comes he shouts, 'It's the police,' you know just joking around and I say back, 'Bring it on,' and we laugh. Well, when the policeman came in my apartment and said it was the police I thought it was MIFA and I yelled what I always yell. I think they took it the wrong way and thought I wanted to fight when I put out my hand for him to shake."

The police report said officers used a chemical agent on Bland after he "became irate" and punched and scratched an officer. The officers said they found a loaded .22-caliber pistol with five live rounds and one spent round in Bland's pants pocket after he was in custody.

"That gun is so old that I don't even think it works," said Bland, who added that he has never fired the gun. "I just have it for show. I'm a older blind man and you just don't take chances when it comes to some kinda safety these days."

Bland, a retired Memphis sanitation worker, has been living at the home for elderly and disabled residents for 13 years.

"You know if I gave them some reason for beating me I wouldn't be upset," he said. "But here I am in my apartment and if they wanted me to turn down my music they didn't have to break my arm and beat me in the chest to get me to do it."

Memphis City Council members Barbara Swearengen Holt and Myron Lowery told Bland's family and residents during a tenants meeting Tuesday that they had met with Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin. About 100 residents attended the meeting organized by Novella Smith Arnold, a prison chaplain and County Commission candidate.

"This is not going unnoticed and we will pursue it to get to the bottom of it," Holt said.

Residents called Bland a "good and decent" man.

Resident Eldred Miller, a spokesman for Bland's family, said they want people to know what happened,

"We don't want what happened here kept in the dark, because if it happened to him it could happen to me or any of us."

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Edition: Final; Section: Metro; Page: B1
Copyright (c) 2006 The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN

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