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Police shooting of man calling 911 for help heads to DeKalb grand jury

On Tuesday, Delisa Davis will hear, for the first time, her brother’s dying words.

They were captured on a 911 call made by Kevin Davis after his girlfriend had been stabbed, along with the fatal gunshots that killed him, fired by a DeKalb police officer.

“I’m not prepared to hear this call but I’m going to be there to support my brother,” Delisa Davis told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday.

Davis and her attorney, Mawuli Davis, will be allowed to witness Tuesday’s civil grand jury hearing, where her brother’s case is being heard. Last week that same grand jury heard the case of Anthony Hill, an unarmed veteran shot by a DeKalb officer in March. A spokesman for the DeKalb District Attorney said recommendations are expected in both cases by the end of this week.

The media is barred from grand jury proceedings.

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The recording is expected to be a key part of the evidence presented to grand jurors who will then recommend whether Officer Joseph Pitts should face criminal charges in Davis’ death.

“A 44-year-old man with no criminal record calls 911 for help and is shot dead,” Delisa Davis said. “That’s not supposed to happen.”

Kevin Davis was armed but was not pointing his weapon at the officer, according to all accounts. Pitts, a three-year veteran of the DeKalb force with no prior shootings on his record, feared for his safety, DeKalb Public Safety Director Cedric Alexander previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Davis had called 911 to report that his girlfriend, April Edwards, had been stabbed by a roommate, who had fled the apartment. He remained on the line, seeking instructions on how to treat her injuries, when he heard gunshots outside his door, Edwards said in a press conference last February.

According to police, officer Pitts knocked on the door then entered to investigate. He was confronted by Davis’ pit bull and retreated outside, shooting the dog after it followed him into the apartment breezeway, the incident report states.

Davis was told by the 911 operator that police had not yet arrived. Hearing gunshots, he armed himself, not expecting to find an officer standing in his doorway.

Edwards said the officer never identified himself. But one neighbor said they did hear Pitts announce himself. Another said gun shots were fired almost immediately after the command was made to Davis to drop his weapon.

Attorney Mawuli Davis, who represents the Davis family, has listened to the 911 recording and said it proves Pitts did not provide ample time for Kevin Davis to drop his firearm. Davis was shot in the chest, arrested and charged with aggravated assault. He died two days later on New Year’s Eve 2014 while handcuffed to his bed at Grady Memorial Hospital.

“He never had a chance to comply,” Mawuli Davis said.

It’s unknown whether Pitts will testify. If he does he will not be subjected to cross-examination, a privilege afforded only to police officers in the grand jury setting.

Davis’ shooting led DeKalb police to outsource investigations of officer-involved shootings to the GBI. Such probes were formerly handled internally.

His sister said she wants to see the officer indicted and found guilty but is aware the odds are against it. A recent investigation by The AJC and Channel 2 Action News found that out of 171 police shootings in Georgia over the past five years, not a single case went to trial.

“I’m not preparing for anything,” Delisa Davis said on the eve of the grand jury hearing. “It is what it is.”

About the Author

A native Atlantan, Boone joined the AJC staff in 2005. He quickly found his niche covering crime, taking over the public safety beat in 2014. Boone has chronicled some of the most infamous trials in recent history, from Hemy Neuman to Ross Harris to, most recently, Claud “Tex” McIver. 

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