Undisclosed - State v. Keith Davis, Jr., Week 2

Week 2 starts off with the crazy day of Charles Holden. Holden, we are told, drives an unlicensed cab and on Sunday, June 7th - the day of the Keith Davis, Jr., shooting - he was involved in a car accident on West Belvedere Ave. He was not actually intending to work, but an armed robber flagged him down demanding a ride. So he drives towards the scene of an accident while having a gun pointed at him by a random dude in the front passenger seat, and he himself gets into a minor accident with a city bus. Now there are 2 accidents. What a cluster.

Davis will later be charged with this attempted robbery, among other crimes, despite the fact that he does not fit the description of the robber and that Holden describes a gun that is clearly not the one recovered from the garage, which, for the record, lacks any connection to Davis. He has the unfortunate luck to be caught in the open while all this drama is going on. If you believe the Davis/Undisclosed narrative (you should), his adrenaline is rushing after he leaves a convenience store and hears someone yelling something about a gun. He runs away from the commotion and hides in the first reasonable option he sees: a garage with an open door. The cops mistakenly believe he’s the man who attempted to rob Holden and is up the road fleeing the scene. 4 of the 9 officers who are known to have been present shoot into the garage and mistake the ricocheting of their bullets for Keith shooting. 3 of the 32+ bullets shot into the garage hit Davis, who was unarmed.

The most powerful part of the episode is when podcaster/investigator/reporter Amelia McDonell-Parry describes how the events play out in real time for the officers versus Davis, as he wakes up in a hospital with his jaw wired shut with Baltimore Police Department officers trying to get him to confess to crimes he didn’t commit, his wife unable to see him, his being taken to prison from the hospital 5-6 days after the incident. “Here’s an interesting fact about this case. The four shooting officers […] were not asked to give interviews until, in fact, 7 months later.” McDonell-Parry informs us. Crazily enough, the law is that the officers have 10 days notice before having to be interviewed after they shoot a citizen in the face. So… yeah, if you don’t notify them for 7 months… that’s both legal, and totally absurd if Davis was charged a week after the incident. During this time the officers have already been reassured by Marilyn Mosby, the State Attorney, that they will not have charges pressed.

The rest of the episode discusses how difficult it is to attempt to investigate an incident like this. The 1967 Supreme Court decision in Garrity vs New Jersey established that “law enforcement officers and other public employees have the right to be free from compulsory self-incrimination.” (Interesting side tangent: it involved ticket-fixing in the neighborhoods I grew up in decades later.) Basically, if in the course of doing your job as a cop you accidentally shoot someone, sure, you get certain protections a regular citizen does not get for accidentally shooting someone. Similar to how prosecutors get protections that defense lawyers are not provided. Working on behalf of the government changes things. The physicist in me recalls the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Due to the laws of nature, one cannot accurately measure both the momentum and spin of a particle. The mere act of measuring changes either the momentum or spin. You can only get so accurate. When the police try to investigate the police, things get equally messy. Despite the existence of Internal Affairs divisions and use of force investigations.

Logistically speaking, however, you also want to interview everyone as quickly as possible and only once. The more time that passes, the more memory fades, the more people talk to each other despite their best efforts to avoid discussing it, and false memories are planted and solidify. The neuroscientist in me calls to mind a review I read in the course of writing this. It’s called “The Neuroscience of Memory: Implications for the Court Room”. It’s over 5 years old, and thus, already presumably outdated given how quickly cognitive neuroscience is advancing. Yet, co-authors Joyce W. Lacy and Craig E. L. Stark quite elegantly tie together a broad range of issues with the science of memory - how suspect identifications should be done, how people get wrongfully convicted on the basis of erroneous eyewitness testimony, and how juries ought to be counseled regarding the fallacies of memory. In my opinion, this article out of the renowned Stark lab at University of California, Irvine. should be required reading for all participants in the criminal justice system.

But setting aside all the messiness of dealing with investigating a police involved shooting, you don’t need to be a neuroscientist to appreciate the many issues with the investigation in this case. Due to the lack of public outrage a la Freddie Gray and the internal chaos of the Baltimore Police Department, there was no public pressure for even maintaining the facade of of a fair investigation. Until now, perhaps, or the upcoming trial this summer. Episode 3 just dropped in my feed. To be continued next week.

If you like what you read, I’d encouraged you to follow Kelly Davis, Keith’s wife and advocate. Check out the various links above if Keith’s case interests you. And of course, you should check out all my social media links and various other writing and musical endeavors as well. #undisclosed #freekeithdavisjr

How do you sleep with the sound of bullets outside?