Mark Davidson was in his senior year at Martin Van Buren High School. He had no prior criminal record when he was arrested on April 17, 1985 for allegedly trying to sell an undercover police officer $10 worth of marijuana. Davidson was taken to the 106th Precinct station in Ozone Park, where policemen shocked him more than 40 times with an electric stun gun capable of delivering up to 40,000 volts. The 20-minute torture session ended when Sergeant Richard Pike and Officer Jeffrey Gilbert threatened to apply the same treatment to Davidson’s testicles. Davidson agreed to the confession the officers demanded.
When Davidson pressed felony assault charges, 3 other people came forward with similar accusations. It was several months’ culmination of grievous police brutality claims – unnecessary use of force, a hit-and-run on Park Avenue, and civilian beatings by off-duty officers. Mayor Ed Koch dismantled the entire command structure at Ozone Park: 5 top commanders forced into retirement, 5 indicted officers suspended without pay, everyone else transferred.
Davidson’s credibility was questioned at trial. He had difficulty remembering the exact times of his arrest, his arrival at the precinct, his first meeting with his lawyer. But Pike’s and Gilbert’s outright denials failed to sway the jury. Both men were convicted on May 2, and each was sentenced to 2 to 6 years in prison.
Pike would face 3 more such trials, Gilbert 2. New York City settled with the torture victims in civil court for a total $1 million.