UPDATED – DeKalb Police defend actions of officer who shot Kevin DavisA memorial for Kevin Davis outside the DeKalb County Courthouse. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
DeKalb County Police officials on Friday addressed a growing controversy over the shooting death of Kevin Davis on Dec. 29.
An officer responding to a 911 call at an apartment at 100 Pinetree Circle shot Davis, who died at Grady Hospital on Dec. 31. Davis worked at Sawicki’s in downtown Decatur.
Davis’ family members have claimed they were denied access to Davis and that he was handcuffed to a bed at Grady Hospital when he died.
Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Public Safety Cedric Alexander said during a news conference that no member of the DeKalb Police Department handcuffed Davis or barred his family from the room. He added that the DeKalb Sheriff’s Office was in charge of Davis’ custody at the hospital.
He said that he does not believe they restricted access to Davis either.
“That needs to be verified with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office,” he added.
Decaturish reached out to the Sheriff’s Office.
“It is for the safety of the public and inmates in our custody that we routinely restrain arrestees, generally with handcuffs,” Sheriff Jeffrey Mann said via email. “This practice applies to inmates who are taken to medical facilities prior to coming to the DeKalb County Jail. It is also our practice not to allow inmate visitation except in the most grave situations, and then with the confirmation of that condition by the medical professionals at the facility. Tragically, Mr. Davis succumbed to his wounds while being treated at Grady Hospital. In the interest of transparency, however, we will review the circumstances regarding his condition and any visitation requests.”
Davis was charged with aggravated assault, but there’s been some confusion about why. Alexander shed some new light on it during his press conference.
He said the charge was, “Based on the information that Mr. Davis refused to drop his weapon after being verbally commanded to do so.”
The Davis family released a statement after the news conference, saying that Alexander’s account was, “Very disparate from that of those close to the family, including witnesses who have spoken with the (the Davis-Bozeman Law Firm) and organizers.”
The family promised a more through rebuttal this afternoon.
“It is the stance of the family and supporters that the police narrative is misleading, and that the term ‘justified shooting’ is unacceptable, untrue, and insulting in a time of grieving,” the family’s statement says.
Alexander could not say whether Davis pointed the weapon at the responding officer. Much of the account of that night comes from the officers who responded and an independent witness, who Alexander did not identify.
A report filed by the backup officer says the responding officer arrived at Davis’ apartment and found a bloody, chaotic scene. When he came into the building, he heard the responding officer yell “drop the weapon.”
He found the responding officer at the top of the stairs and Davis sitting on the ground in the doorway of his apartment. He was holding his chest saying, “I’ve been shot and can’t feel my legs.” Davis’ girlfriend, April Edwards, was shirtless and standing over him, crying. The responding officer told him there was a gun nearby. The backup officer saw a black revolver with a wood handle to the left of the entrance of the door.
Davis’ three-legged dog, Tooter, had also been shot dead by the responding officer, according to the police report filed by the backup officer and the account provided by family members.
Edwards explained she had gotten into an argument with her roommate, Terrance Hilyard. Both of them pulled knives out of the kitchen drawer, and Hilyard allegedly stabbed Edwards in the arm, which prompted the 911 call that brought police officers to their apartment.
Alexander provided the perspective of the responding officer.
He said when the responding officer arrived at the apartment, he could hear screaming and yelling inside.
“He banged on the door of the apartment,” Alexander said. “He announced himself. There was no response, but yet there was continual yelling and screaming. (The officer), feeling someone inside that apartment was in danger, very slowly opened the front door of that apartment that was found to be unlocked. As he pushed that door open. A large pit bull animal charged at (the officer.)”
The officer “retreated” and shot the dog, which ran back inside the apartment, Alexander said.
“(The officer) had not physically gone inside that apartment. As he walked back … by that point he was approached by Mr. Davis and Ms. Edwards,” Alexander stated. “Upon being approached by Mr. Davis, it was during that time that Ms. Edwards, according to our investigation, was yelling and screaming at (the officer). (The officer) observed a firearm in the hand of Mr. Davis. (The officer) stated, ‘Drop your weapon. Drop your weapon.’ Mr. Davis did not adhere to his command.”
The officer, feeling his life was in danger, fired at Davis, Alexander said. Alexander said the officer shot Davis “several” times but he didn’t know an exact number of shots fired.
Decaturish asked Alexander whether Edwards or Davis corroborated the responding officer’s account.
“This is still an ongoing an investigation. I cannot tell you with any specificity in regards to the condition Mr. Davis was in, or whether he had been questioned by investigators,” Alexander said. “It’s my understanding Edwards was very limited in any statements she made to investigators. We do have independent witness accounts of (the officer) banging on that door.”
Alexander said that on he has met with representatives of the Davis family, DeKalb County NAACP President John Evans, Sen. Vincent Fort, a representative from Occupy Atlanta and other interested parties.
“Their desire and only concern was is that I request a GBI investigation into this incident,” he said. ” … I expressed to that group that at the conclusion of this investigation that will be forwarded to the DA’s office, which is normal protocol, I would gladly agree with them and I will formally request a GBI investigation and I would formally request it in writing and I would copy each one of these individuals in on that written request.”
On Feb. 4, family members held a vigil for Davis on the steps of the DeKalb County Courthouse. Feb. 4 would’ve been Davis’ 45th birthday. The family and their supporters have accused the DeKalb Police Department of acting in a manner that is not transparent.
Alexander disputed this claim as well. He said the department sympathizes with the Davis family.
“I want to say this our prayers go out to the Davis family and any time a shooting occurred .. it’s always something in which we look at very seriously,” Alexander said.