Davis family ‘distraught’ over DA’s findings in fatal police shooting

NAACP, Department of Justice, city residents to hold forum on police-community relations

hgoodridge@macon.comMarch 12, 2013 

  • Police-community relations forum

    Community forum on Macon Police Department

    Where: Unionville Missionary Baptist Church, 3820 Houston Ave.

    When: 11 a.m. Saturday

Sammie “Junebug” Davis Jr. was shot and killed by a Macon police officer Dec. 21. Family members felt he died again on Tuesday.

A wound that hasn’t even begun to heal was deepened when Bibb County District Attorney David Cooke said the shooting at the Pio Nono Avenue Kroger was justified.

A sign posted on the door of the family’s Hillyer Avenue home stated: “We have no information and we have no comment.”

“The family is very distraught and hurt,” said Jeffrey Jackson, standing on the front porch of the house hours after Cooke’s news conference on the investigation into officer Clayton Sutton’s use of deadly force.

Davis’s sister, Cheryl Davis, said Jackson is a spokesman for the family.

“When Miss Davis got this report today, it was like they killed (Junebug) again,” said Jackson. “This family is reliving this tragedy all over again.

“It might be over for (Cooke), but it’s not over for the family,” said Jackson, adding that he’s not sure what steps the Davis family would take next.

Some community leaders and elected officials who are not satisfied with the investigation are calling for the case to be reviewed by federal officials.

“My concern is (police) have three elements before (using) a gun,” said Al Tillman, a community activist. “Hard hands is your fist, number two is your baton and, three, you can use pepper spray,” said Tillman, former president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Police “have been trained to use all of these.”

The Davis shooting comes after years of poor relations and mistrust between many city residents and police.

The Macon NAACP and the federal Department of Justice are hoping to address the unhealthy relationship at a community forum at 11 a.m. Saturday at Unionville Missionary Baptist Church. Georgia State Conference NAACP President Edward DuBose also is scheduled to be at the forum.

Gwenette Westbrooks, Macon NAACP president, said her office has been communicating with the Department of Justice to figure out ways to address residents’ complaints about the police department.

“We’ve had problems with police in the past and it’s not getting any better, and this incident with Sammie Davis makes it worse and has divided this community,” Westbrooks said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

Westbrooks said Saturday’s forum is “open for the community to express concerns and experiences they’ve had,” with Macon police.

Bibb County Commissioner Joe Allen and Macon City Councilman Henry Gibson held a news conference in front of City Hall hours after Cooke’s announcement. The officials asked that the public remain calm. They also expressed concerns about the investigation saying the case should be handed over to the Department of Justice.

“We come together to ask the public to remain calm,” said Gibson. “We plan to ask the Justice Department to come in and look at this case. Myself, as an officer of 35 years, there are questions that were not answered.”

Allen agreed.

“We know there are a lot of people upset, and we as elected officials are going to do everything we can do to get a conclusion to this and get the Justice Department to look at this. ... Please remain calm and pray we’re going in the right direction,” he said.

To contact writer Harold Goodridge, call 744-4382.

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