Baltimore Tried And Failed To Convict A Man Who Was Shot In The Face By Cops

CREDIT: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, left, walks out of a courthouse

Keith Davis Jr. has had a bullet lodged in his neck since last June, when Baltimore police fired at him inside a garage. After surviving another shot to the face, he was brought to the local jail and eventually charged with first and second degree assault, attempted armed robbery, and at least 13 other offenses. He sat there for eight months awaiting trial for crimes he swears he didn’t commit, the pain in his neck going untreated all the while.

On Thursday, Davis was found not guilty on all charges aside from unlawful possession of a gun.

Ever since the night of the shooting, officers claimed Davis was involved in an armed robbery attempt during which he threatened them with a firearm. But leading up to the trial, their accounts of what happened varied and police tried to withhold evidence from the defense.

In January, when Davis was still waiting for the trial to begin, his girlfriend, Kelly Holsey, described to ThinkProgress the tragic toll the case was taking on him.

“He knows he hasn’t done anything wrong,” she said, weeping and barely able to talk. Davis was still in pain from the gunshots and the jail wasn’t doing anything to help him. He’d spent time in solitary confinement for an offense that prison guards said he didn’t commit. Holsey also said she miscarried on the day of his indictment — a loss that made the case that much harder to cope with. “He’s trying to get through this and it’s hard.”

Police officers and the prosecutor on the case said Davis tried to rob an unlicensed cab driver at gunpoint. According to their account, he jumped out and ran from police, who happened to be in the vicinity because of a car crash. When Davis was cornered in a garage, he allegedly pointed his gun at the officers who’d chased him. That’s when four officers opened fire.

A fingerprint expert for the state later testified that Davis’ prints were on the gun recovered from the scene.

But Davis adamantly denied he was in the cab, and says he was one of many people who ran away from the cops at the scene. He also says he was holding a cellphone and wasn’t in possession of the gun police reportedly saw. Just before he was shot, he called Holsey to tell her the cops were after him.

His story was backed by the cab driver. During a pre-trial line-up, driver Charles Holden chose another man. The police statement he gave described someone with braids, which Davis doesn’t have, and different facial hair. And when he was called to the witness stand by Ringgold-Kirksey on Monday, Holden doubled down, saying “that don’t look like him.”

Two other witnesses in the garage were unable to ID the man police were chasing. One said she saw a square black gun, but also testified that she was drunk when the incident occurred. She also said investigators fed her answers. Holden noted that the gun he saw in the cab was silver.

Holsey and Davis’ lawyer, Latoya Francis-Williams, accused the state of foul play leading up to the trial.

During the pretrial motion hearings, police tried to withhold key evidence, including witness statements. State Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office declined charges against the four shooting officers in November without asking for their accounts of what happened.

When the officers were eventually asked for statements in January, months after they were cleared, their stories differed. Some recalled the sounds of gunfire but didn’t actually see him shooting. Some said the only gunfire they heard came from their colleagues. Two officers said that a gun was on top of a refrigerator when they got to the garage.

During the actual trial, officers gave inconsistent claims about who actually had eyes on Davis at the time.

On Thursday, a 12-person jury concluded Davis was guilty only of unlawful possession of a firearm, which carries a five-year mandatory minimum. His lawyers plan to appeal that decision.

According to Holsey, the case is proof that there are two very different sides to Mosby: The side the world saw when she announced charges against six officers for Freddie Gray’s death, and the side that criminalized Davis instead of seeking justice for him.

“She’s the very one who stood in front of all these cameras and said ‘I’m all for justice and I’m all for fairness.’ Come to find out it’s absolutely the opposite,” she said. “She’s not for justice. She’s not for fairness.” When she publicly filed charges against the six officers, according to Holsey, the action was “just a ploy to pad her husband’s political career and aspirations of being mayor. It is extremely frustrating.”