By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Though it is not unusual for cases to be thrown out should a judge rule an affidavit or warrant seriously flawed, few in the law enforcement community whom the Observer spoke with believed the case would be dismissed. "So long as they had the right address," said one lawyer who wished to remain anonymous, "everything's probably OK."
But it's not the technicalities that are most troubling. What transpired inside the Davis home begs the important questions.
According to the press release issued by the North Richland Hills police, officers were "immediately confronted by an armed 25-year-old male suspect [Troy Davis] who pointed a handgun at officers in the front foyer of the residence."
Evidence collected at the scene of the shooting suggests a different scenario. Upon entering the Davis house, one looks down a 14-foot-long hallway/foyer with floor-to-ceiling walls. At the far end of the foyer, where plants and an antique Victrola sit, is an open doorway where a left turn leads into the sunken den where the dying Troy Davis lay before being transported to the hospital. One spent shell casing from Hill's gun was found in the corner of the den, the other at the end of the foyer near the doorway. Assuming the casings from the officer's gun were discharged to the right as is the normal case, their location would strongly suggest that the shots were fired not as the raiders entered the house, but only after Hill had reached the end of the foyer and turned left to face the den.
"I do not believe Troy Davis was armed, not for a minute," Carse says.
The discovery of an empty canvas pistol holster lying on Troy Davis' bed on the opposite side of the house fuels at least three possible scenarios:
· It suggests that upon becoming aware the house was being broken into, Davis would have had to run from the kitchen, where he was allegedly preparing breakfast, past the foyer, into his room, get the gun, then return to the den in those few seconds that neighbors describe between the sounds of the door being knocked down and hearing two gunshots.
· Meanwhile, those willing to play devil's advocate are quick to suggest that from the kitchen window, which faces the front of the house, Troy might have had a bird's-eye view of the approaching SWAT team before their entry and thus had ample time to arm himself before officers actually burst into the house.
· Or, is it possible that officers did first see Davis in the foyer, then he had begun a retreat through the doorway and into the den? That there was no blood trail leading from the foyer to where Davis' body lay and the fact that the fatal wounds were to the front of his body makes it seem unlikely.
The case, then, offers the kind of mystery that writer Barbara Davis might well have been drawn to -- were she not the story's central figure.
Also prominent in the tragedy's cast of characters is North Richland Hills officer Allen Hill, the member of the entry team who fired the fatal shots. Though cleared of any criminal wrongdoing last month by a grand jury investigating the shooting, he has, during his law enforcement career, been the focus of controversy.
In November of 1998, while on a tactical-team training exercise at Fort Hood, the officer exposed his penis as a group photograph was being taken and was later suspended without pay for two weeks. The lone female member of the SWAT team at the time of the incident has since left the department and is no longer involved in police work. She has a sexual-harassment complaint pending against Hill.
In a statement written by Hill in response to the internal affairs investigation of his behavior and obtained by the Observer, the officer provides a convoluted explanation of his strange actions at Fort Hood. "I realize," he writes, "that there have been comments, usually humorous in nature, about what appears to be my desire to show my genitalia at any opportunity. This is not true, nor do I have a fetish concerning my penis or anyone elses [sic] body for that matter. The truth is, via the medium of humor, I have tried to break down the barriers that I am sure we all have concerning the various sensitivities about our bodies."
Two months prior to the photo incident, Hill was investigated by internal affairs following allegations that he had physically abused a 38-year-old Hurst woman. According to police documents, Hill was accused of striking the woman with his nightstick and shoving her over a couch. Later, the woman assured officials that she had had no problems with Hill, saying that the allegations were the result of a false report made by "an acquaintance with an overactive imagination." After Hill passed a polygraph test, the investigation was dropped.
It did, however, fit a pattern that seems to have followed the officer through much of his career. While a member of the White Settlement city water department in July of 1984, he was fired following a physical altercation with his supervisor. Employment records of his dismissal, however, eventually acknowledged that it had been the supervisor who initiated the fight. A city report on the matter noted that "Mr. Hill was wrongly fired for his action."