DeKalb Sheriff’s Office clarifies its response in Kevin Davis caseA memorial for Kevin Davis outside the DeKalb County Courthouse. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
Law enforcement agencies in DeKalb County are taking a hard look at how officers handled the shooting and subsequent death of Kevin Davis.
Now the DeKalb Sheriff’s Office is saying its officers did not deny family members access to Davis in the hospital because they did not ask them for access.
“At no time during Mr. Davis’ stay in the hospital were any (DeKalb County Sheriff’s) officers on duty asked by family members for visitation privileges,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a press release. “It is our understanding that family members were called in by the hospital prior to his death but that they did not arrive until after he died and, at that time, they were allowed in his room to view his remains.”
Jim Chambers, a spokesperson representing a coalition of activists who are bringing attention to the case, said the statement from Sheriff’s Office does not sync up with the stories told by several members of Davis’ family.
“All I can say is that is directly counter to everything I’ve heard from the family, from numerous members of the family, from the law firm anybody associated with the case, down to his teenage nieces, who told me they personally went down to the hospital to see them and were denied entry,” Chambers said.
That does not necessarily mean that one side isn’t telling the truth. The Dec. 29 incident has been garbled with confusion and technicalities as family members, backed by activists, have disputed and criticized the DeKalb Police Department’s handling of the case.
What both sides generally agree on is that on Dec. 29, an officer was responding to a 911 call at an apartment at 100 Pinetree Circle when he shot Davis.
Davis died at Grady Hospital on Dec. 31. He worked at Sawicki’s in downtown Decatur. Davis was restrained by Sheriff’s Officers because had been charged with aggravated assault. He allegedly refused to drop his weapon when the officer ordered him to do so. DeKalb Police say the officer felt his life was in danger.
In the weeks since Davis’ death, the case has gained notoriety as a group of activists have kept up the pressure for a GBI investigation. The DeKalb County Police Department, while defending the actions of its officer, has formally asked the GBI to take a look at the circumstances surrounding Davis’ death.
During a on Feb. 6, Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Public Safety Cedric Alexander disputed claims by family members that the police department had handcuffed Davis to his bed and denied requests for visitation by family members. Alexander said custody was the responsibility of the Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office initially confirmed that officers typically use restraints on “inmates in our custody.” The Sheriff’s Office promised to follow-up and the most recent press release provides more detail about what Sheriff’s Office said its officers did – and did not – do.
The press release said officers used “soft ankle restraints,” not handcuffs.
“At no time prior to or after Mr. Davis’ death did DKSO officers place additional restraints on Mr. Davis,” the press release says.
The Sheriff’s Office said it tries to balance its protocols with the needs of family members in these cases.
Chambers said that Davis sister, DeLisa, told him that she had primarily communicated with a DeKalb County Police investigator.
“She described a number of times being on a call with … Grady and this investigator and having the doctor inform her, with the investigator on the line, that he had turned for the worse and saying he’s expired,” Chambers said. “The only thing that could be variable in this is the Sheriff’s Office was overseeing his stay in the hospital and DeLisa and the family was communicating via DeKalb PD and they were crossing signals. She thought they were dealing with the PD. That might’ve been the only person they knew how to call.”
Chambers said the focus remains on the events that put Davis in the hospital. There was another protest on Feb. 11, followed by another camp out held on the lawn of the county courthouse.
“We had a march that went from where Kevin had lived to the courthouse where there was another rally,” Chambers said. “It was performance-art based, spoken word and singing. We slept out again they wanted to keep that going. I think that’s useful. The social media storm behind it gets very strong. Everybody is coming out of the bars (on the Decatur square). They all want to know why there’s eight tents in front of the courthouse.”
Read more: The full statement from the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office.
The following is an updated statement from Sheriff Jeff Mann:
Mr. Kevin Davis was transported by EMS directly from the scene to Grady Memorial Hospital. The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office (DKSO) assumed custody on Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at approximately 2:30 p.m. At the time DKSO assumed custody, Mr. Davis was already in “soft ankle restraints.” At no time prior to or after Mr. Davis’ death did DKSO officers place additional restraints on Mr. Davis.
At no time during Mr. Davis’ stay in the hospital were any DKSO officers on duty asked by family members for visitation privileges. It is our understanding that family members were called in by the hospital prior to his death but that they did not arrive until after he died and, at that time, they were allowed in his room to view his remains.
Once Mr. Davis went into cardiac arrest, medical personnel asked the DKSO officer to leave the room, and the DKSO officer did not re-enter the room until after Mr. Davis died and after his family viewed his remains.
The Sheriff’s Office exercises great care to demonstrate the appropriate compassion and concern for family members when their loved one is in our custody, under all circumstances. It is mandatory, however, that security protocol is applied consistently in order to protect the safety of both the inmate and the general public.