DeKalb Police are finishing an investigation of how an officer ended up killing a man who called 911 for help but may ask the GBI to investigate separately, the county’s public safety director told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Kevin Davis, a 44-year-old with no history of trouble with the law, was shot Dec. 29 after a police officer arrived at his apartment in response to Davis’ 911 call that his girlfriend had been attacked.
What started as standard police response for assistance ended in death after the officer was confronted by Davis’ dog, killed it when he feared it would bite him, and then shot Davis when he appeared with a gun and refused to drop it, said Cedric Alexander, public safety director.
Alexander didn’t say Davis pointed the weapon but that the officer felt threatened when he saw the pistol in Davis’ hand at his side. Davis was shouting at the officer for killing his dog, which was described as a three-legged pit bull, Alexander said.
Asked if Davis would have to point or to wave the pistol for the officer to be justified in shooting, Alexander said Thursday: “I can’t speak for that officer. That officer had to interpret that threat.”
DeKalb police have scheduled an 11 a.m. Friday news conference to provide an update on the investigation.
Davis family members and advocates, however, want the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to do a deep investigation of the killing, saying at best the officer shot too quickly without enough evidence of a threat.
They noted Davis’ girlfriend, April Edwards, who was at the shooting, contends the officer shot without warning after entering the apartment without identifying himself.
“The police officer’s story varies dramatically from the girlfriend,” said activist Tim Franzen. “But you have to ask, Why would the girlfriend make it up when they are the ones who called police? Why would they want to ambush the officer?”
Alexander tried to debunk the 37-year-old girlfriend’s recollection.
“We have a witness who heard (the officer) say to Davis, ‘Drop that gun,’ and we also have a witness that heard (the officer) bang on the door and say, ‘Police,’” Alexander told The AJC.
The police-version of the killing, however, has been met with distrust by some who have become more skeptical about police use of force nationwide, especially since Davis had no record of trouble with the law.
On Thursday, scores of people protested the killing outside the DeKalb courthouse in Decatur and a couple of dozen camped on the courthouse grounds to emphasize the protesters were not going away, activists said.
“When someone calls the police for help, they shouldn’t have to worry about getting shot in their own home, especially if you’re entering unannounced,” activist Cydney Brower told Channel 2 Action News. “It’s just one of those situations where we’re here, and we’re going to continue to come here and we are going to continue to make noise because we want this to be investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The family deserves it.”
The DeKalb District Attorney office on Thursday also said it is investigating the shooting but a spokesman for the office stressed it was standard inquiry done in all police shootings.
“We are doing a through investigation,” said Erik Burton spokesman for the DA “Our same resources are at play here as they are in any officer-involved shooting.”
Alexander, who met with the group of church and civil-rights leaders Tuesday, said he promised he would request a GBI investigation if the family wasn’t satisfied with the findings of the DeKalb investigation.
So far the investigation uncovered a turbulent situation in which the officer responded to a 911 call from Davis that another man had stabbed Edwards. When the officer arrived around 8:50 p.m. at the Marquis Forest Apartments on Pine Tree Circle he heard screaming or shouting inside Davis’ apartment, banged on the door and then entered to investigate, Alexander said.
When the officer opened the door, the dog lunged at him and followed him outside where the officer shot the pit bull, Alexander said.
Moments later an angry Davis appeared at the front door — his girlfriend told police they heard the gunshot and believed her assailant had returned — and the officer saw the gun and fired after Davis didn’t drop it, Alexander said.
Franzen, who was at the meeting with Alexander and other officers, said police provided no evidence Davis, emotional over killing of his dog, did anything more than shout at the officer.
“They said Kevin came to the door, ‘Yelling you killed my dog you killed my dog,’ and he was holding the gun by his side,” Franzen said. “They said the officer told him to drop the gun several times and Kevin continued saying ‘You shot my dog,” and the officer shot him.”
He died two days later.