Keith Davis Jr.: "Survivor" of Baltimore Police Shooting Faces Third Trial
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Keith Davis Jr.: "Survivor" of Baltimore Police Shooting Faces Third Trial

An interview with wife and advocate Kelly Davis.

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Keith Davis Jr.: "Survivor" of Baltimore Police Shooting Faces Third Trial
City Paper

What were you doing the morning of June 7th, 2015?

Keith Davis Jr. was walking to work, he maintains in court. After spending the night at a friend’s house, he walked the route to his family’s business, stopping briefly at a corner store to buy a pack of cigarettes.

This is when he heard someone shout, “Gun!”

Everyone by the corner store fled, and Davis ran across the street into an open garage to take cover. Police officers chased after him to the garage, and shot 44 bullets at him, hitting him three times. All this happened while he was on the phone with the woman who would become his wife: Kelly.

Keith Davis Jr. was shot in the face, arm, and back. He was sent to the hospital, where his family was initially denied the ability to see him, and then sent to jail in the middle of the night. He was charged on 15 different accounts, including robbing a hack driver.

The police report that a hack driver in the Park Heights neighborhood was being robbed, and motioned for them to approach. When the driver lowered his window to speak to the officers, the alleged armed robber hopped out of the passenger side of the car and began running, ensuing a chase. The officers maintain that Davis was this robber, despite the fact that the suspect was described as sporting braids. Davis had a shaved head.

In 2016 Davis was acquitted of 14 out of 15 charges, including robbing the hack driver. The driver himself testified, expressing that he did not believe Davis was the man who attempted to rob him. The only charge Davis was convicted of was Illegal Possession of a Firearm. On top of a refrigerator in the garage where Davis took shelter, a handgun was found. Davis is still considered a felon from a low level drug charge six years previous to the incident, and so is not allowed to be within a certain proximity to firearms, regardless of whom they are registered under. Davis was convicted for being near this weapon. The minimum mandatory sentencing for this conviction is five years in prison, which he is serving now.

A week after his court case, the BPD announced that they had connected the gun found in the garage to a murder that had happened in the Park Heights neighborhood five hours before Davis was shot. A young man named Kevin Jones was shot 11 times in the parking lot of the Pimlico Race Course, where he worked as a security guard, in the early hours of the morning on June 7th. Keith Davis Jr. was charged with first and second degree murder, and use of a firearm to commit a violent crime or felony.

The trial for these murder charges happened last month, and resulted in a hung jury. The state prosecutor tried to link the gun in question to the murder of Kevin Jones, pointing out that Keith Davis Jr.’s fingerprints were found on the gun. Keith Davis Jr. testified that he believes police officers planted the gun on him once they realized they had shot an innocent man. The state prosecutor also brought in a BPD weapons expert, who said that the gun found in the garage was the same used in the killing of Kevin Jones. However, in cross examination, this witness revealed that he had not followed protocol when analyzing this particular gun, and had merely “eyeballed” it. The only eyewitness to Jones’s killing, since deceased, had also described the suspect as being in his late 30s or early 40s, while Keith Davis Jr. was only 23 at the time. The state prosecutor said that this witness was simply “mistaken.” The state prosecutor’s entire argument was contingent upon Keith Davis Jr. having robbed the hack driver that morning, despite the fact that he had already been acquitted of said crime. The jury was not informed of any of his previous charges, trials, or acquittals. After over two days of deliberation, the jury expressed that they had irreconcilable disagreements. Jury members later told spectators that 11 jurors believed he was innocent, and one juror was convinced that he was guilty.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Keith Davis Jr.’s wife, Kelly Davis, and learn more about her perspective.

Despite the personal pain the murder charges have brought her and her husband, Mrs. Davis expressed sympathy for the family of Kevin Jones, as she believes that the murder of their loved one is being used to cover up an incident of police brutality. “[Jones’s family is] dealing with their grieving process, and now they have to go through it over and over again, thrown into another trial,” she said. “No one is looking for the person who did this to them. In fact, they are misrepresenting facts to this person’s family.”

The Office of the State’s Attorney has already scheduled a retrial for October. Mrs. Davis points out that, after an 11-1 mistrial in the case of Officer William Porter, who was charged with killing Freddie Gray, all charges were dropped. She believes that there is a double standard for how police officers and everyday citizens are treated in the justice system, especially those who could put the police department’s reputation on the line.

Mrs. Davis believes that, while the Baltimore Police Department is a rightful target of criticism, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby should receive the same amount of scrutiny, as she is the city’s top prosecutor. “The State’s Attorney’s Office is up for re-election next year -- November 2018, the primaries are June 2018. Keep that in mind,” she said. “For so long people have been in support of this State’s Attorney’s administration based on a sound bite here, or a media interview there…Go beyond the surface and…pay attention as to what’s really going on.”

While Kelly Davis is adamant in her fight against Mosby’s reelection, she insists that she means no harm personally. “If at any moment [Mosby] thought that I disrespected her or I set out to harm her in any way, I apologize. That was never my intention to embarrass her or be rude. My intention was to get answers,” she said. “[Mosby] is a spouse, I’m a spouse. Her family’s important to her, and my family is important to me. And the facts from the police and the facts from her office…they were not adding up.”

She says of Mosby: “I don’t dislike you, because I don’t know you. I only know you in your professional capacity, and in my opinion this is not what you should be doing as the Baltimore City State’s Attorney.”

Kelly Davis is a mother of four children, is a human resources administrator, owns her own cupcake business, is a full-time student, and spends her free time advocating on behalf of her husband and other victims of police brutality. She often attends West Wednesdays, which Tawanda Jones leads to demand justice for her brother, Tyrone West, who was killed by Baltimore police officers in 2013. Mrs. Davis also attended a demonstration last Saturday morning to support the family members of Dante Smith, who are experiencing something very similar to what she has gone through. Smith was shot by ATF officers just a few weeks ago, and then was immediately charged with nearly two dozen crimes, while the family has been told multiple contradictory versions of what happened. Dante Smith’s wife, who is due to give birth to their third child any day, had been denied the ability to visit her husband in the hospital until Mrs. Davis arrived at the University of Maryland Medical Center and advocated on her behalf. Mrs. Davis spoke to the family at the demonstration, saying: “I am sorry to welcome you to a club that shouldn’t have this many members.”

But Mrs. Davis needs support from others, too. She is currently in the process of trying to raise legal funds for the retrial set for October. While she hopes public pressure could cause State’s Attorney Mosby to drop all charges, she still feels she needs to be prepared, and hopes to use the same defense attorney who has been with Mr. Davis thus far. “Keith has an amazing attorney…She really is the only person for the job,” Mrs. Davis said. “However, that costs money. Keith worked a regular 9 to 5, I work a regular 9 to 5. We have four children to provide for; we are spent. So there will be fundraisers that will kick off,” she said. The first of these fundraisers just happened at Sofi’s Crepes by Belvedere Square the evening of June 19th, during which 20% of proceeds went towards Davis’s legal funds.

Mrs. Davis is also trying to ensure her husband receives medical treatment. “He was denied medical attention…on multiple occasions. His medicine has been stopped…There was a time that he changed his own bandages in central booking. We’ve had to call in to get his medicine. His surgery should have been done two years ago,” she said. “There’s two pieces of scrap metal infused in the front and back of his spine. Those are inoperable…But the bullet that is lodged in his neck is removable. We’re just trying to fight to have that done.”

To say Mrs. Davis misses her husband is an understatement. “I don’t think I could love him any more than I already do,” she says. “He is funny, he is loving. He is an amazing dad; an amazing big brother. To know him is to love him, and I know that that sounds so cliché or so biased, but he really is an amazing individual,” she said. “We need him home.”

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