GBI asked to investigate death of Kevin DavisA memorial for Kevin Davis outside the DeKalb County Courthouse. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
This story has been updated.
The DeKalb County Police Department has formally asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to review the circumstances surrounding the death of Kevin Davis.
Davis’ family and their supporters say the announcement was in response to their plans for a Monday morning protest at DeKalb Police headquarters. The protest has been cancelled.
A county Police Officer responding to a 911 call shot Davis on Dec. 29. Davis, who Sawicki’s in downtown Decatur, died handcuffed to a bed at Grady Hospital on Dec. 31. During a press conference on Feb. 6, Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Public Safety Cedric Alexander defended the officer’s actions, saying he fired at Davis because he would not drop a revolver he was holding at the time. Davis was charged with aggravated assault because he allegedly wouldn’t obey the officer’s order to drop his weapon.
Alexander promised that the department would request a GBI investigation when the department finished its investigation into the incident.
“The DeKalb County Police Department has made an official request to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations to investigate the officer involved shooting that occurred on Dec. 29, 2014 resulting in the death of Kevin Davis,” the department said in a press release distributed Sunday evening.
The family has called for the GBI’s involvement, saying that the Police Department has not been forthcoming or transparent. 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.
Activists who have gotten involved in the case said in a press release that the police department’s announcement is a direct response to their plans for another protest.
“In the wake of a meeting last Wednesday with Chief Alexander, and a subsequent news conference held by the DeKalb Police Department on Friday, organizers pledged to arrive Monday morning, en masse, at DeKalb Police Headquarters in Tucker, Ga, if the letter had not yet been sent,” a press release from the family says. “Media sources have confirmed that as of 10:45 pm, Sunday, February 8th, police had ‘made an official request to investigate’ to the GBI. As such, Monday morning’s action has been called off, and members of the coalition, while steadfast in resolve to fight and advocate for this case, have expressed gratitude towards Chief Alexander, and his department, for the decision to call in the GBI.”
Alexander disputed claims that the department hasn’t been forthcoming. During his press conference he said the department is sympathetic to what the family is going through.
Much of the account of what happened on Dec. 29 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 told the media on Friday that 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.
The family’s supporters, working together as #Justice4KevinDavis, announced plans for a solidarity march this week.
“On Wednesday, Feb. 11, at 5 pm, a solidarity march will be held, commencing at Kevin Davis’ former home in Decatur, where he was shot, and culminating in a rally at the DeKalb County Courthouse at 6:30 pm,” the press release says. “Plans for this action have not been altered by the prompting of further investigation.”