Candlelight Vigil Held for Kevin Davis in DeKalb County
(APN) DECATUR — A candlelight vigil at the DeKalb County Courthouse on Thursday, January 29, 2015, brought out about seventy-five people to support the family of Kevin Davis, who was recently killed by DeKalb police.
As Atlanta Progressive News previously reported, Davis made the apparent mistake of calling the police for help, when a guest stabbed his girlfriend during an argument in the couple’s apartment.
Davis and his girlfriend, April Edwards, were in the bedroom when police arrived unannounced and shot Davis’s dog. Davis retrieved his gun, thinking Edwards’s assailant had returned, and exited the bedroom only to be shot on sight by Officer Joseph Pitts.
DeKalb police have claimed that Pitts repeatedly told Davis to drop the weapon before shooting him.
“We have witnesses that will testify that they heard police yell ‘Drop the gun’ only after the shots were fired,” Mawuli “Mel” Davis [no relation], the family’s lawyer, told the crowd outside the courthouse.
Pitts arrested Kevin Davis after shooting him and transported him to Grady Hospital where he died in police custody two days later.
Kevin Davis’s family members “called, went to the the hospital, they tried everything in their power to see him so he wouldn’t die alone. So they could whisper something in his ear that would give him strength to keep fighting,” Mawuli Davis said.
Police did not allow the family to see Kevin Davis before he died.
The DeKalb County Police Department has not asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigations to get involved in the case, something Mawuli Davis says is common protocol for an officer-involved shooting.
At the vigil, Kevin Davis’s family members asked supporters to call the Department, as well as the DeKalb County District Attorney’s office and demand the GBI’s involvement.
“DeKalb County Police dismissed us like yesterday’s garbage,” DeLisa Davis, the victim’s sister, said. “We need help because we can’t fight alone.”
Speakers from organizations including Moral Monday, Malcolm X Grassroots Network, Gen Y, and the CommUNITY placed Kevin Davis’s killing in the context of the national Black Lives Matter movement, which has arisen in response to the police murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York, and a spate of high-profile police murders across the country.
“Black people have to now be cautious calling the police when we need help,” Shakia Pennix, an organizer with Gen Y, noted.
“We will be here until this officer is charged, convicted, and incarcerated for murder. If not, then we will shut it down,” Pennix said, referring to the movement’s use of direct action to shut down malls, intersections, and interstate highways.
The family of Kevin Davis then led the group on a quiet march to Sawicki’s, the sandwich shop in downtown Decatur where Davis worked.
Lynn Sawicki and two employees were there to welcome the crowd, offer condolences to the family, and speak about their late co-worker.
“Kevin was the best person to work up front,” Sawicki said. “He was so friendly and so loving and he kept customers coming in. Here at Sawicki’s we are all about farm-to-table food, health, and being a positive force in the neighborhood. Kevin was all about that. I so miss his presence.”
“Working with Kevin was a blessing,” Jeremiah Sainz, a Sawicki’s employee, said. “He watched my back when I was going through a rough spell.”
“We would have soup cook-offs, him and I,” Trevor Bryant, another co-worker said. “We went canoeing once. We were all trying to get healthier. We got Kevin down to two cigarettes a day. Just normal, everyday stuff like that. He was always out behind [Decatur Bikes] fixing up bikes to give to kids.”
“We know the victims of police shootings get demonized,” Mawuli Davis told the crowd outside Sawicki’s. “The media will try to do another narrative in the months to come, but we heard the truth tonight.”
The group then headed back to the courthouse, where the rally continued.
“In 2006, we were here on these same courthouse steps,” speaker Iffat Walker, whose brother, Ab-Raheem Muhammad, was shot in the face by a DeKalb County police officer that year, said.
In 2006, DeKalb police killed twelve people, sparking public outrage that eventually prompted a Grand Jury review. The Grand Jury indicted only one officer.
Speakers from the organizations in attendance vowed to escalate the fight for justice for Kevin Davis.
“We mourn tonight. Tomorrow we fight,” many said.
Citizens can demand a GBI investigation into Kevin Davis’s death by calling the DeKalb County Police Department at 678-406-7929 and the DeKalb County District Attorney’s office at 404-371-2561.