Columbus city leaders speak to members of the press Sunday evening after the mayor, city council and police oversight committee reviewed an officer's body camera footage. The officer shot a suspect in a weekend incident. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff
Amari Bush and Ravin Davis, both 5, hold a sign with the words "Blood on your hands" during a vigil for Raymond Davis at Hank Aaron Park in Columbus Sunday evening. Amari is the daughter of Talisha Davis Bush. Ravin is the daughter of Octavia Macon and the late Raymond Davis, who was killed Saturday by a Columbus police officer outside a nightclub. While the vigil was held city officials hosted a press conference in which Mayor Robert Smith told media Davis was holding a gun at the time he was shot by Officer Jared Booth.
Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff
November 6, 2017 9:52:21 AM
The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.
Body camera footage shows Raymond Davis holding a gun when a Columbus police officer shot him dead early Saturday morning, according to Mayor Robert Smith.
Patrolman Jared Booth shot Davis, 24, outside the Premier Lounge on 22nd Street South just after 1 a.m. Davis was pronounced dead less than an hour later at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle.
The mayor, city council and members of the CPD Citizen Overview Committee viewed body camera footage from the incident in separate executive sessions Sunday evening in the Municipal Complex. During a press conference held there afterward, Smith told media members present that Booth was breaking up a "large disturbance" at the crowded club when the shooting occurred.
"Officer Booth did activate his camera at the time he received the call of a disturbance at the Premier Lounge," Smith said. "... The entire incident was captured on body camera. It is early in the investigation and I am not allowed to go through the entire incident at this time. But I will say the video shows Raymond Davis with a gun in his hand at the time of the shooting.
"We know for a fact the gun wasn't planted," he added later in the press conference. "We know that from watching the video."
Booth has been placed on administrative leave pending a Mississippi Bureau of Investigation review of the case. The council took no action to suspend or terminate the officer after Sunday's special-call meeting.
Both Smith and Police Chief Oscar Lewis -- who also fielded questions at the press conference -- called the shooting an "unfortunate tragedy."
But Lewis specifically defended Booth's actions, saying "the evidence will show the officer acted accordingly."
City officials, including the mayor and Lewis, plan to meet with a MBI investigator Monday morning. Smith and Lewis both indicated at the press conference they will ask the investigator whether the city can release some of body camera footage to the public immediately.
Smith said he also hopes to meet with the owner of the Premier Lounge this week to discuss "several irregularities" at the site, though he didn't offer specifics.
"Let's just say there's a lot of things they can do to make it safer," Smith said.
Booth, who has served with CPD for roughly four years, was the first officer to respond to the disturbance call at Premier Lounge, Lewis said. However, the chief would not say if Booth was the lone officer at the scene when the shooting occurred.
Lewis also would not specify how many times Booth shot Davis, citing the MBI investigation.
There was a disturbance call at the club earlier that night, city officials noted, and Lewis said Sunday Booth responded to the second disturbance because of reports a club goer had "hit someone with a bat."
Booth, Davis backgrounds
Booth only recently returned to work after serving a 28-day suspension for posting inappropriate, sometimes sexually-explicit, material on Facebook. When asked if Booth's previous behavior provided an additional challenge in fielding the officer-involved shooting, Lewis said the issues are mutually exclusive.
"I think they are two different incidents, and I think the first incident has been addressed," Lewis said.
Once MBI completes its investigation, the file will be turned over to District Attorney Scott Colom's office.
"We ask for patience and calm as this investigation continues," Lewis said.
According to Lowndes County Adult Detention Center records, Davis was booked there eight times from 2011-16. Those included charges of domestic violence, drug/paraphernalia possession, trespassing, carrying a concealed weapon, public intoxication and contempt of court. All were misdemeanors.
This is CPD's second officer-involved shooting in a little more than two years. Canyon Boykin shot and killed 26-year-old Ricky Ball in October 2015 after Ball fled from a traffic stop.
Boykin did not activate his body camera before or during that incident. He was fired shortly after the incident and faces a manslaughter charge in the shooting.
As city officials met Sunday evening, dozens of Davis' friends and relatives gathered at Hank Aaron Park for a prayer vigil and balloon release in his memory.
Lights placed on the ground spelled out "Ray Ray." Some held up signs that read "Blood on Your Hands" and "Murder is Illegal; Arrest the Officer."
Most strikingly, Davis' children held a sign that read "You Killed Our Dad."
Zack Plair is the managing editor for The Dispatch.
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