By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
The Davis family had gathered for its traditional Thanksgiving meal and was just preparing to sit down at the table when Chris Davis received a phone call. It was Troy Davis, asking Chris to come to the North Richland Hills home immediately. "Chris told us," Bob Davis says, "that Troy was talking about committing suicide, and he left immediately."
It would be several days before Bob Davis really learned what had transpired between his son Chris and Troy and Barbara Davis.
"He came around to the office, and I gave him a hard time about not coming back that day. He seemed really upset and said that Barbara Jean and Troy had been calling him at all hours, wanting him to get them some marijuana. He told me that Troy had been very upset, talking about how depressed he still was over his father's death," Bob Davis says. "Chris said he finally told his cousin that what he needed to do was get out of the house, get himself a job, and quit using drugs."
Bob Davis, who claims that years earlier he had regularly purchased marijuana for Barbara Davis ("I quit because my brother didn't know anything about it and I didn't like the idea of doing things behind his back," he says), told his son the best way to put an end to the harassment was to call the police.
With that, the father picked up the phone in his East Lancaster Avenue office and dialed the number of the North Richland Hills Police Department. After relaying the story his son had told him, Davis handed the phone to Chris, who described to an officer what he had seen and heard on his visit. Police urged young Davis to return to the Ulster Drive address and make certain the items he was describing were still there. A few days later he did so, then placed another call to the police.
Again Barbara Davis has a different version: Chris, she says, was not in her home on Thanksgiving Day. He had, however, visited the day after. And, she says, the reason he abruptly left was a conversation during which Troy had begun questioning him about his faith, asking whether he was a Christian and had been saved.
As to Chris Davis' accusation that there was marijuana in the house, she says, "That's a lie. All you would have found was water, Diet Pepsi, and my GHB." And, she insists, neither Bob nor Chris Davis ever provided drugs for her or her son.
Still, the information provided by Chris Davis would serve as the foundation of the affidavit for a search and arrest warrant prepared by Sgt. J.A. Wallace of the North Richland Hills Police Department and signed by state District Judge Sharen Wilson.
In the affidavit, Sgt. Wallace states that his "confidential informant" had, within the last 72 hours, been inside the Davis residence and observed both suspects in possession of and concealing substantial quantities of marijuana. Additionally, Wallace wrote that "the C.I. has observed Troy Davis in possession of several handguns kept inside the residence." A criminal-history check on Troy Davis revealed that he had been arrested on a weapons offense. The police believed the next step was obvious. In retrospect, it was nothing of the sort.
From the outset, it seems, the case was fraught with problems in preparation and execution. Of course, there are the standard lawyerly issues with technicalities, but there are other concerns as well, including problems with the police's crime-scene scenario, the background of the officer who shot Troy Davis, and the "no-knock" warrant itself.
Dallas attorney Tom Carse, who is representing the estate of Troy Davis, says the affidavit that led to the "no-knock" warrant is flawed on several counts. Among his concerns is the glaring fact that the wrong name and driver's license number appear in the document. It states that a white female named Barbara Lynn Davis was a suspect residing in the Ulster Drive home. That name, and the accompanying driver's license number, actually belongs to a Fort Worth businesswoman with no knowledge of Barbara Jean Davis or her activities.
"If this defective warrant hadn't been issued," says Carse, "we wouldn't have a dead 25-year-old."
Carse also questions the credibility of the police's confidential informant, pointing out that even in the affidavit it is noted that Chris Davis had previously been arrested on drug charges.
And the earlier weapons charge assigned to Troy Davis, the civil attorney says, could easily have been explained. According to Carse, the young man was stopped for a traffic violation in 1998. While talking with the officer, Davis volunteered that the car belonged to his mother and that a handgun registered to her was under the driver's seat. Though he was arrested on suspicion of unlawfully carrying a weapon, the case was eventually dropped.
Carse has filed a lawsuit against the city of North Richland Hills, asking that a judge order depositions from officers involved in the fatal raid. Carse says he is also considering filing a suit seeking damages. Because of the pending litigation, says North Richland Hills police spokesman Capt. Sid Johnson, "the department has been advised by legal counsel not to discuss the case."