Media reports concerning former Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, appointed last week as the new Fairfax County Chief of Police, raise concerns about his employment history, including allegations of excessive force and violations of civil rights in 1993 and 1999.
Members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors said on Tuesday, April 27, that they were aware of the past issues, but still believe that Davis is the right candidate to serve as Fairfax County Police Chief.
According to a report by NBCWashington, “Incoming Fairfax Co. Police Chief Appointed Despite Lawsuits Over Force in Prince George's,” dated April 27, states that Mark Spann won a civil lawsuit against Davis, who as a Prince George's County police officer stopped Spann in front of his Temple Hill family's home in 1993. In the NBC4 Washington report, Spann alleges that Davis threw him to the ground and mashed his face into the pavement. The same NBCWashington report states that six years later (1999), Davis, then a sergeant, was sued again, this time "for false imprisonment and arrest of a young man who claimed Davis and other officers essentially kidnapped him for a night." NBC4 Washington reports, "The victim won his civil suit."
On Oct. 15, 2015, a report by WBALTV, “Panel approves Davis as commissioner amid protests,” by Kim Darcy and David Collins states, "The jury award against Davis was $12,500," in the Mark Spann lawsuit. As for the second lawsuit, the one in 1999, WBALTV states, "Court records indicate Brian Romjue, a teenager at the time, accused Davis and three other Prince George's police narcotics officers of kidnapping. He claims the officers took him to a remote location and roughed him up, seeking information.”
WBALTV reported that the jury rejected the claim the officers used excessive force during the 1999 incident, but "the jury award against Davis was $90,000 for violating Romjue's constitutional rights."
Catherine Pugh, Mayor of Baltimore, fired Davis as Baltimore Police Commissioner on Jan. 19, 2018, saying she had run out of patience in the attempt to reduce crime.
Fairfax County Supervisor Rodney Lusk (D-Lee) said that during his interview process, Davis made clear his commitment to police reform, data transparency, department morale, and combating inequalities in the use of force. "After extensive discussions on these and other topics with Mr. Davis, our entire Board came away confident in his values and ability to lead our police department,” Lusk said. “I look forward to working with Chairman McKay to introduce Mr. Davis to our community, and I am committed to providing opportunities for the community to directly ask him questions about his past as well as his goals for the future of policing in Fairfax County." Lusk is chairman of the board’s public safety committee.
VICE CHAIRMAN Chairman Penelope A. Gross (D-Mason) said that the Board used a search firm for a national search for police chief. They brought several candidates to the Board for interviews, and significant background checks had been done.
"I like to say, anybody who is coming for an interview, as police chief for Fairfax County, they're going to have some things in their background that may raise some questions. We felt that he was the strongest candidate, would do the best job in Fairfax County," Gross said.
According to Gross, the Board was aware of the employment issues raised in Maryland and that the mayor of Baltimore fired him. "As the mayor, she could, and we understand that's a political decision," Gross said. "We are aware of issues that were raised about all of our candidates. We still feel that Commissioner Davis was the best candidate for Fairfax County," Gross said.
Kofi Annan, President of The Activated People, said: “The hire of Chief Davis feels like a gut punch considering what the Black community and our nation has experienced over the past year. While the Derrick Chauvin verdict was a step in the right direction, this hire feels like we've taken two steps back locally. Nothing in Chief Davis' record indicates he is a reform-minded leader, and the revelations about his own racially-charged misconduct only solidifies our belief that he is not the leader we need at this moment. We hope that in light of this new evidence the Board of Supervisors reconsiders his appointment.”