For the more than 240 days since Keith Davis was shot in the face by Baltimore police, he has nursed his wounds from a jail cell, facing a barrage of charges on allegations that he robbed an unlicensed cab driver and fled. Davis was the first police-involved shooting since the death of Freddie Gray in police custody set off citywide protests in April.
And while Gray became a household name as representative of the more than 1,000 people who are killed by police each year, activists have held up Davis as an example of how Gray and others like him might have been treated by the law enforcement system if they had lived.
On Thursday, a jury found Davis not guilty on all the charges but one. They acquitted him of 14 charges related to the robbery, chase and standoff that ended in police gunfire at Davis, and found him guilty only of possessing a firearm as a prohibited person, which carries a five-year minimum sentence.
Despite a prison sentence that Davis’s supporters consider unjust, the verdict is viewed as at least a partial victory by Davis and activists.
Davis “feels like this is a win”, said his fiancee Kelly Holsey, who led the activist movement. “He set out to prove his innocence and did that. And the charge he was found guilty for is really a technicality.”
The state’s attorney’s office – headed by Marilyn Mosby, who came to national prominence when she announced charges against officers in connection with the death of Freddie Gray – has faced increasing criticism from campaigners regarding this case. Baltimore Bloc, an activist group, has repeatedly alleged that Mosby’s office was involved in helping the police department cover up the shooting.
On the stand, the officers offered conflicting and contradictory accounts of the incident. The state alleged that Davis got into the car of Charles Holden, who was operating an unlicensed cab, and tried to hold him up. Police testified that they chased Davis after they saw him flee from the car carrying a gun, and followed him into a garage where they saw him point a gun at them from behind a refrigerator. Four different officers opened fire, ultimately discharging more than 40 shots.
Police never offered a clear story about what happened that day as their timelines varied considerably, leaving room for reasonable doubt. For instance, Officer Lane Eskins testified that he never lost sight of the suspect, but Sergeant Alfredo Santiago’s account placed Davis in the garage while Eskins was still a block away.
Source: The Guardian | Baynard Woods in Baltimore