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(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

New Orleans Police Beating Caught on Tape. Can they just fire them all and rebuild the force from scratch?

Two New Orleans police officers repeatedly punched a 64-year-old man accused of public intoxication, and another city officer assaulted an Associated Press Television News producer as a cameraman taped the confrontations.

There will be a criminal investigation, and the three officers were to be suspended, arrested and charged with simple battery Sunday, Capt. Marlon Defillo said. “We have great concern with what we saw this morning,” Defillo said after he and about a dozen other high-ranking police department officials watched the APTN footage Sunday. “It’s a troubling tape, no doubt about it. … This department will take immediate action.”

The assaults 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 man at least four times in the head Saturday night as he stood outside a bar near Bourbon Street. The suspect, Robert Davis, appeared to resist, twisting and flailing as he was dragged to the ground by four officers. One of the four then kneed Davis and punched him twice. Davis was face-down on the sidewalk with blood streaming down his arm and into the gutter.

Meanwhile, a fifth officer ordered APTN producer Rich Matthews and the cameraman to stop recording. When Matthews held up his credentials and explained he was working, 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 later identified himself as S.M. Smith.

If these officers have a level of PTSD that results in this kind of behavior, they need to be off active duty.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding