Picture courtesy of Associated Press
Defiant until the end, Troy Davis was executed Wednesday night for the murder of an off-duty police officer. He convinced hundreds of thousands of people around the world, but not a single court, that he was innocent.
As he lay strapped to a gurney in the death chamber, the 42-year-old told relatives of Mark MacPhail that he was not responsible for his 1989 slaying.
"I am innocent. The incident that happened that night is not my fault. I did not have a gun," he insisted.
"All I can ask ... is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth," he said.
Davis was declared dead at 11:08 p.m. The lethal injection began about 15 minutes earlier, after the Supreme Court rejected an 11th-hour request for a stay.
One thing you can say about the prosecutors, police officers, detectives and judges involved in this mess: they got who they wanted. Despite the hole-shot credibility of the witnesses, the lack of physical evidence and the presence of someone who was implicated time and again for the actual crime, law enforcement officials wanted Davis to pay. They made sure to bring his name up early and often, and if it took intimidating witnesses into telling the story that fit the narrative, they did it. No one within the law enforcement community who had their hands on the lever wanted to appear soft on a black man who was an alleged cop-killer, nor did they want to be proven "wrong" about advocating Davis' death. Not even with the literal outpouring of support for leniency towards Davis.
Well, Troy Davis paid with his life. Even the family of slain cop Mark MacPhail admitted it wouldn't bring them much peace or closure.
There's nothing much anyone can do except turn this tragedy into an impetus to review whether we really need the death penalty when the process allows for so many of these wrong calls. The death penalty involves fallible people rendering permanent judgments using a fallible process. Perhaps we should think twice about using such a system when so many innocent men and women get ground up in the gears.
He was convicted on the evidence. He had his appeals. He failed. He's dead. Move along, FACT
Loss of your appeals does not equal guilt. No one wants to blame a failed judicial process and biased personalities for these failures. That not only requires a bit of heavy mental lifting on our part, but it also shakes our "faith" in institutions we sometimes regard to be infallible.
The fucked up part in all of this will come at least 5 to 10 years later, perhaps more, perhaps less. Some independent entity will produce a report detailing how the state of Georgia was clearly in the wrong for executing Troy Davis. Or someone will stumble upon evidence that fingers Sylvester "Redd" Coles or another person for killing MacPhail. Either way, it'll be "too little, too late" for Troy Davis. May God rest his soul and may He forgive the rest of us for our actions.
Picture courtesy of Associated Press
NOTE: Around the same time Troy Davis was put to death, the state of Texas executed Lawrence Russell Brewer for his role in the racially motivated death of James Byrd Jr.
Byrd, 49, was chained to the back of a pickup truck and pulled whip-like to his death along a bumpy asphalt road in one of the most grisly hate crime murders in recent Texas history.
Brewer, 44, was asked if he had any final words, to which he replied: "No. I have no final statement."
His death at the state's hand wasn't any more deserving than the death of Troy Davis. In fact, I'd prefer if Brewer was made to serve out the remainder of his years under a life sentence.