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David Senak is one of the main antagonists of the 2017 film Detroit.

He is a corrupt and racist police officer who, in addition to not seeing moral limits to achieve what he wants, also does not hesitate to kill people (mainly blacks) if they get in his way.

He is portrayed by Will Poulter in his second villainous role, who also portrayed Gally in The Maze Runner.

Biography

On Sunday, July 23, 1967, the Detroit Police Department staged a raid on an unlicensed club during a celebration for returning black veterans from the Vietnam War. While suspects were being arrested, a mob formed and started throwing rocks at the officers before looting nearby stores and starting fires, beginning the 12th Street Riot. With state authorities, elected representatives, and even emergency services unable to maintain any semblance of order, Governor George W. Romney authorized the Michigan Army National Guard and President Lyndon B. Johnson authorized Army paratroopers to enter Detroit to provide assistance. On the second day of rioting, two cops pursued a fleeing looter. One of them, David Senak, killed the man with a shotgun against orders, but was allowed to remain on duty until his superiors could decide whether to file murder charges.

Melvin Dismukes, a private security guard, was assigned to protect a grocery store from looters and ingratiated himself with the Guardsmen. Carl Cooper fired several blanks from his pistol in the direction of the troops to frighten them, but they mistook it for a sniper attack and pinpointed it coming from the Algiers due to the pistol's muzzle flash. Led by David Senak, the Michigan State Police, National Guard, and Detroit Police arrived at the motel to investigate. Entering the building, David killed Carl when he tried to escape and planted a knife next to his body as he bled out and died.

The police rounded up everyone in the hotel and lined them against the wall, demanding to know who the sniper was. Despite not finding any weapon during a search of the room, David terrorized and interrogated the occupants of the hotel. Melvin Dismukes arrived to try to help. Unwilling to get involved, most of the state police and National Guard left without informing anyone of David Senak’s abuse.

David ordered several suspects to be moved to different rooms and subjected to mock executions in order to terrify the others into confessing. One officer, Ronald August, actually killed Aubrey Pollard, as he did not understand that the executions were supposed to be faked. Julie Ann Hysell and Karen Malloy were taken to an upstairs room, with Julie Ann Hysell's clothes being accidentally torn off. Disgusted, a Guardsman returned and managed to get them released from custody. Fearing arrest, David permitred the remaining three men to leave, but only if they swore to keep silent. Karl Greene and Larry Reed agreed, but Temple was shot twice in the chest by David and Robert Paille after he persisted in telling them that he saw a body.

Although David Senak, Ronald August, and Robert Paille were not found guilty of criminal charges, they never returned to active duty. Robert Paille died on September 9, 2011, while David Senak and Ronald August were arrested and remain in prison. Years later, a civil court ruled against one of the officers and he was ordered to pay a fine to Pollard's family of $5,000. Soon afterwards he is acquitted of all charges for his crimes.

Victims

  • Leon
  • Carl Cooper
  • Fred Temple

Obviously, the number of people that David killed off-screen is probably much higher.

Trivia

  • This is the second antagonistic role of Will Poulter, with Gally of The Maze Runner being the first.
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