• Troy Davis.

    Courtesy of The Well Versed.

    The following comes from Amnesty International's documentation on the Troy Davis case.

    Kevin McQueen
    Affidavit, 5 December 1996
    In September and October 1989, Kevin McQueen was detained in the same jail as Troy Davis. McQueen told the police that during this time Troy Davis had confessed to shooting Officer Mark McPhail. In his 1996 affidavit, he retracted this statement, saying that he had given it because he wanted to "get even" with Davis following a confrontation he said the two of them had allegedly had.
    "The truth is that Troy never confessed to me or talked to me about the shooting of the police officer. I made up the confession from information I had heard on T.V. and from other inmates about the crimes. Troy did not tell me any of this… I have now realized what I did to Troy so I have decided to tell the truth… I need to set the record straight".

    Monty Holmes
    Affidavit, 17 August 2001
    Monty Holmes testified against Troy Davis in a preliminary pre-trial hearing, but did not testify at the trial, as he explains in an affidavit signed in August 2001:"In August of 1989, the police came to talk to me about the officer who was killed in Savannah. They wanted to know if Troy Davis was involved in the shooting and whether he had said anything to me about being involved with the shooting… By the way the police were talking, I thought I was going to be in trouble. I told them I didn’t know anything about who shot the officer, but they kept questioning me. I was real young at that time and here they were questioning me about the murder of a police officer like I was in trouble or something. I was scared… [I]t seemed like they wouldn’t stop questioning me until I told them what they wanted to hear. So I did. I signed a statement saying that Troy told me that he shot the cop."
    When I had to go to court that first time, I felt like I had to say what was in that statement or I’d be in trouble, so that’s what I did. When it came to the trial though, I didn’t want to go because I knew that the truth was that Troy never told me anything about shooting [the police officer]. I heard the police were coming by to give me a subpoena for trial. I dodged the subpoena but they still left it with my mother. I still didn’t feel like I could walk in a court and say those things so I didn’t go to the trial".
    Monty Holmes’ pre-trial testimony was admitted at the trial without cross-examination possible due to his absence. Article 14.3(e) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that any criminal defendant must be allowed, "in full equality", to be able "to examine, or have examined, the witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him". While Monty Holmes knowingly avoided testifying at the trial, if his pre-trial testimony and his absence from the trial were influenced by coercive tactics allegedly employed by the police, the state played a role in undermining the right of Troy Davis to a fair trial.

    Jeffrey Sapp
    Affidavit, 9 February 2003
    Jeffrey Sapp testified that Troy Davis had told him that he had shot the officer in self-defence. In his affidavit, he stated:"I remember when the officer got shot down at Burger King… The police came and talked to me and put a lot of pressure on me to say, ‘Troy said this’ or ‘Troy said that’. They wanted me to tell them that Troy confessed to me about killing that officer. The thing is, Troy never told me anything about it. I got tired of them harassing me, and they made it clear that the only way they would leave me alone is if I told them what they wanted to hear. I told them that Troy told me he did it, but it wasn’t true. Troy never said that or anything like it. When it came time for Troy’s trial, the police made it clear to me that I needed to stick to my original statement; that is, what they wanted me to say. I didn’t want to have any more problems with the cops, so I testified against Troy".

    Dorothy Ferrell
    Affidavit, 29 November 2000
    At the trial, Dorothy Ferrell, who was staying at a hotel near the Burger King at the time of the crime, identified Troy Davis as the person who had shot Officer McPhail, emphasising "I’m real sure, that that is him and, you know, it’s not a mistaken identity".
    After the guilt/innocence phase of the trial had ended, the wife of Troy Davis’ defence lawyer received a telephone call from a woman who identified herself as Dorothy Ferrell, and stated that she had lied on the witness stand. The prosecution then revealed that Dorothy Ferrell had written a letter to District Attorney Spencer Lawton requesting "a favour" and his "help" with her own difficulties with the law. She was on parole at the time. She wrote in the letter: "Mr Lawton if you would please help me, Ipromiseyou, you won’t be making a mistake" [emphasis in original].
    After this revelation, Dorothy Ferrell was recalled to the witness stand, outside of the presence of the jury. She denied having made the telephone call, but admitted to having written the letter. The judge then offered the defence the opportunity to cross-examine Dorothy Ferrell in the presence of the jury, but they did not do so, instead calling for a mistrial on the grounds that the prosecution had withheld information from the defence. The trial judge denied their motion for a new trial.
    In her affidavit signed in November 2000, Dorothy Ferrell recalled that she had been staying in a hotel opposite the Burger King restaurant on the night of the shooting. She said that she heard a woman scream and gunshots. In her affidavit, she recalls seeing "more than two guys running away", but states that she did not see who the gunman was. After the crime, she was asked to go down to the police station, where she was made to wait until she gave a statement. The affidavit continues:"I was real tired because it was the middle of the night and I was pregnant too… I was scared that if I didn’t do what the police wanted me to do, then they would try to lock me up again. I was on parole at the time and I had just gotten home from being locked up earlier that year.
    When the police were talking to me, it was like they wanted me to say I saw the shooting and to sign a statement. I wanted to be able to leave and so I just said what they wanted me to say. I thought that would be the end of it, but it turned out not to be the end."
    Some time later, a police detective visited Dorothy Ferrell and showed her a photograph of Troy Davis, and told her that other witnesses had identified him as the gunman:"From the way the officer was talking, he gave me the impression that I should say that Troy Davis was the one who shot the officer like the other witness [sic] had… I felt like I was just following the rest of the witnesses. I also felt like I had to cooperate with the officer because of my being on parole…I told the detective that Troy Davis was the shooter, even though the truth was that I didn’t see who shot the officer."
    In her affidavit, Dorothy Ferrell recalls her fear that if she did not repeat her statement at the trial, she would be charged with perjury and "sent back to jail". She says that she spoke to two lawyers who said that she could be so charged and could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
    "I had four children at that time, and I was taking care of them myself. I couldn’t go back to jail. I felt like I didn’t have any choice but to get up there and testify to what I said in my earlier statements. So that’s what I did."
    On the question of the telephone call made to Troy Davis’ defence counsel at the time of the trial, Dorothy Ferrell’s affidavit adds that:"I didn’t make that call to the house of the attorney but my friend made the call after she and I had talked. I told my friend about how I had testified to things that weren’t the truth and I was feeling bad about it. That’s why she made the call."

    Darrell "D.D." Collins
    Affidavit, 11 July 2002
    Darrell Collins was a friend of Troy Davis who was with him on the night of the crime. At the time, he was 16 years old. In his affidavit he said that the day after the shooting, 15 or 20 police officers came to his house, "a lot of them had their guns drawn". They took him in for questioning, and the affidavit continues:"When I got to the barracks, the police put me in a small room and some detectives came in and started yelling at me, telling me that I knew that Troy Davis…killed that officer by the Burger King. I told them that… I didn’t see Troy do nothing. They got real mad when I said this and started getting in my face. They were telling me that I was an accessory to murder and that I would pay like Troy was gonna pay if I didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear. They told me that I would go to jail for a long time and I would be lucky if I ever got out, especially because a police officer got killed… I didn’t want to go to jail because I didn’t do nothing wrong. I was only sixteen and was so scared of going to jail. They kept saying that…[Troy] had messed with that man up at Burger King and killed that officer. I told them that it was Red and not Troy who was messing with that man, but they didn’t want to hear that…
    After a couple of hours of the detectives yelling at me and threatening me, I finally broke down and told them what they wanted to hear. They would tell me things that they said had happened and I would repeat whatever they said."
    Darrell Collins said that he signed a typed statement without reading it, and was then allowed to go home. According to his affidavit, he was questioned again about a week later by the police who gave him another typed statement to sign. He said he again signed the statement without reading it. The affidavit continues:"I testified against Troy at his trial. I remember that I told the jury that Troy hit the man that Red was arguing with. That is not true. I never saw Troy do anything to the man. I said this at the trial because I was still scared that the police would throw me in jail for being an accessory to murder if I told the truth about what happened…
    It is time that I told the truth about what happened that night, and what is written here is the truth. I am not proud for lying at Troy’s trial, but the police had me so messed up that I felt that’s all I could do or else I would go to jail."

    Larry Young
    Affidavit, 11 October 2002
    Larry Young was the homeless man who was accosted and then struck in the face, and whose shouts drew the attention of Officer McPhail. At the trial, he implicated Troy Davis as the man who had assaulted him, but only identifying him by his clothing. His affidavit, signed in 2002, offers further evidence of a coercive police investigation into the murder of their fellow officer, and states that he "couldn’t honestly remember what anyone looked like or what different people were wearing".
    "After I was assaulted that night, I went into the bathroom at the bus station and tried to wash the blood off my face. I had a big gash on my face and there was blood everywhere. I was in a lot of pain. When I left the bathroom, some police officers grabbed me and threw me down on the hood of the police car and handcuffed me. They treated me like a criminal, like I was the one who killed the officer. Even though I was homeless at that time and drinking and drugging, I didn’t have nothing to do with killing the officer. I told the officers that, but they just locked me in the back of the police car for the next hour or so. I kept yelling that I needed to be treated but they didn’t pay me no mind. They then took me to the police station and interrogated me for three hours. I kept asking them to treat my head, but they wouldn’t.
    They kept asking me what had happened at the bus station, and I kept telling them that I didn’t know. Everything happened so fast down there. I couldn’t honestly remember what anyone looked like or what different people were wearing. Plus, I had been drinking that day, so I just couldn’t tell who did what. The cops didn’t want to hear that and kept pressing me to give them answers. They made it clear that we weren’t leaving until I told them what they wanted to hear. They suggested answers and I would give them what they wanted. They put typed papers in my face and told me to sign them. I did sign them without reading them.
    I never have been able to make sense of what happened that night. It’s as much a blur now as it was then."

    Antoine Williams
    Affidavit, 12 October 2002
    Antoine Williams, an employee of Burger King, had just driven into the restaurant’s car park at the time the shooting occurred. At the trial, he identified Troy Davis as the person who had shot Officer McPhail. In 2002 he stated that this was false, and that he had signed a statement for the police which he could not and did not read.
    "I couldn’t really tell what was going on because I had the darkest shades of tint you could possibly have on my windows of my car. As soon as I heard the shot and saw the officer go down, I ducked down under the dash of my car. I was scared for my life and I didn’t want to get shot myself…
    Later that night, some cops asked me what had happened. I told them what is written here [in the affidavit].They asked me to describe the shooter and what he looked like and what he was wearing. I kept telling them that I didn’t know. It was dark, my windows were tinted, and I was scared. It all happened so fast. Even today, I know that I could not honestly identify with any certainty who shot the officer that night. I couldn’t then either. After the officers talked to me, they gave me a statement and told me to sign it. I signed it. I did not read it because I cannot read.(41)
    At Troy Davis’ trial, I identified him as the person who shot the officer. Even when I said that, I was totally unsure whether he was the person who shot the officer. I felt pressured to point at him because he was the one who was sitting in the courtroom. I have no idea what the person who shot the officer looks like."

    Daniel Kinsman
    Affidavit, 15 October 2002
    Daniel Kinsman was with other Air Force personnel in a van in the Burger King car park at the time of the crime. He was interviewed by police. He describes himself as having been "relatively close to the scene" of the shooting, but remains confident that he would "not have been able to make any identification of the shooter due to the poor lighting and the chaotic nature of the scene". In the affidavit, Daniel Kinsman recalls "two things that stand out to this day about what I witnessed at the Burger King". First, as he told the police, "there was and is no doubt in my mind that the person who shot the officer had the gun in and was shooting with his left hand." Second, the gun had a "shiny finish… not dull in any sense of the term." Troy Davis is right-handed.

    Robert Grizzard
    Affidavit, 23 March 2003
    In 1989, Robert Grizzard was a Sergeant in the US Air Force, and was in Savannah for a training exercise. He was in a van in the Burger King car park at the time of the shooting of Officer McPhail. In his affidavit, Robert Grizzard stated:"I have reviewed the transcript of my testimony from the trial of Troy Davis… During my testimony I said that the person who shot the officer was wearing a light coloured shirt. The truth is that I don’t recall now and I didn’t recall then what the shooter was wearing, as I said in my initial statement [to the police].My testimony to the contrary was an honest mistake on my part… As I said in my statement given on that night, I do not and did not remember what the shooter was wearing."

    3. ‘Party’ testimony
    In the hours before the shooting of Officer McPhail there was a party in the nearby neighbourhood of Cloverdale, Savannah. As Michael Cooper and a group of friends were leaving the party in their car, shots were fired, wounding Cooper. Troy Davis was convicted of aggravated assault for the shooting.
    At the trial, Darrell Collins repudiated his initial statement to the police that Troy Davis had shot at the car. He testified that he had not seen Troy Davis with a gun on the night of the shooting. Michael Cooper testified that he had not seen who shot him. In a 2002 affidavit (below), he repudiates a statement he allegedly gave to police implicating Troy Davis. Benjamin Gordon testified that he had not seen who shot Cooper, contrary to a statement he gave to police after the crime. In a 2003 affidavit (below) he states that the statement he gave to police (when he was 15) had been coerced. Craig Young testified at trial that a statement he gave to police in which he stated that Troy Davis had threatened some guests at the Cloverdale party and that Davis had told him that he had fought with another guest were false and coerced by the police.
    In a 1995 affidavit, April Hester (below) stated that Sylvester Coles was at the Cloverdale party.

    Joseph Blige
    Affidavit, 1 December 1995
    Joseph Blige, who was 15 years old at the time of the crime, went to the Cloverdale party. He was in the car that was shot at, and in which Michael Cooper was wounded. His affidavit stated that neither he nor anyone he was with at the party "had any words or any problem with Troy Davis".
    "As we drove off Michael yelled something out the window and shooting started. Our car was hit at least six times. I heard more than six shots. I head more than one weapon being fired. At least one of the weapons being fired was an automatic. It could not have been a revolver because the shots came too fast.We drove Michael to the hospital. The police talked to us there in the hospital parking lot. A sergeant picked up a bullet from behind the panelling in the door of the car. There was [sic]different size bullet holes in the car. The sergeant saw all the bullet holes. He saw the blood in the car. I do not know what he did with the bullet he picked up. The police did not want to keep the car for evidence. We left in the car.
    The next morning the police got me from Yamacraw and asked me lots of questions about the shooting of the police officer that happened at the bus station. They even tried telling me they knew I shot the officer."

    Michael Cooper
    Affidavit, 10 February 2002
    Michael Cooper was shot and wounded on leaving the Cloverdale party. Troy Davis was convicted of the shooting at his trial for the murder of Officer McPhail which happened later the same night. In his affidavit, Michael Cooper states that:"I have had a chance to review a statement which I supposedly gave to police officers on June 25, 1991. I remember that they asked a lot of questions and typed up a statement which they told me to sign. I did not read the statement before I signed. In fact, I have not seen it before today. In that statement, the police said that I told them that Mark [Wilds] told me that Troy shot me. I never told the police that. Mark never said that to me. What is written in that statement is a lie. I do not know who shot me that night. I do not know it now, and I did not know it then."

    Benjamin Gordon
    Affidavit, 10 February 2003
    Benjamin Gordon, who was 15 years old at the time of the crime, had been at the party in Cloverdale and was leaving in the car with Michael Cooper when the latter was shot and wounded. In his affidavit, he states that "the shooting came from the shadows next to the street", and that "I never saw who did the shooting". The affidavit continues:"Later that night, police officers came and dragged me from my house in Yamacraw. There were police officers everywhere after the police officer was killed and it seemed like they were taking everyone in Yamacraw to the police barracks for questioning. I was handcuffed and they put a nightstick under my neck. I had just turned sixteen and was scared as hell. The police officers took me to the barracks and put me in a small room. Over the next couple of hours, three or so officers questioned me – at first, they called me a motherfucker and told me that I had shot the officer. They told me that I was going to the electric chair. They got in my face and yelled at me a lot. The cops then told me that I did the shooting over in Cloverdale. I just kept telling them that I didn’t do anything, but they weren’t hearing that. After four or five hours, they told me to sign some papers. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I didn’t read what they told me to sign and they didn’t ask me to.
    When it came time for trial, I was in jail, and the sheriff’s office transported me to the courthouse. A person in a suit told me to say to the court what I had told the police. I believe that person was with the District Attorney’s office.
    No one working on Troy’s case even came to speak to me before trial. If they would have, I would have talked to them and told them what is contained in this affidavit."

    The underlying theme here is police coercion and intimidation. They wanted Troy Davis' name on the case and they got it by intimidating and coercing witnesses. This is some shameful shit right here.

    Any other case where the initial affidavits and testimony crumbled apart like aged cheese would have been thrown out and retried, at the very least. Instead, Troy Davis is slated for execution between the 21st and 28th of this month, barring a miracle from what could be his last meet with the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole. If this happens, it will be a gross miscarriage of justice that will taint Chatham County and the state of Georgia for decades to come.

    Apologies for the formatting errors, if there are any.