Let’s get one thing straight. Larry Davis was not a good guy.
If you believe the charges against him, he killed four rival drug dealers in the Bronx, and another up in Harlem. He was finally put in jail for weapons charges and murdering another dealer by shooting through a crack house door. These crimes took place before he was 20.
Like I said, he wasn’t a good dude. And, Spoiler Alert: He died like a lot of bad guys die, with a shiv in the gut in a prison cell upstate as he served a 20 to life sentence.
So why the hell would I write about him, especially in the context of self-defense? Because his case proves that even if you are a low down, dirty rotten dealer, you have the right to defend your wretched life. Even against the police.
There are different stories as to what led up to the notorious shooting in his sister’s apartment in the Bronx. The police said that they were tracking him down in connection with the killings of the four Bronx dealers. Davis said that he had been brought into a life of crime by the very police that were now tracking him down. And they were coming not to put him behind bars, but to silence him.
Although it might sound far-fetched, rumors of the police colluding with drug dealers are nothing new, and persist to this day. Also, the police had allegedly told his mother that when they found him, they would kill him.
At about 8:30 p.m. nine officers stormed the three-room apartment of Davis’s sister Regina Lewis. Davis, his girlfriend, his sister, her husband and their four children were all there. Two of her infants were sleeping in a back room.
When she was interviewed the following day, his sister said that she answered a knock, and then the police stormed the living room with guns drawn. They told the adults to get the children and go, and then they shouted to Davis, “Come out, Larry, you don’t have a chance – we’ve got you surrounded.”
Nobody was sure who fired first, but Davis began shooting a sawed off, sixteen gauge shotgun and a 45 caliber pistol from a dark bedroom.
Seven of the police were injured in the barrage, two seriously. They returned fire as they retreated, but Davis took advantage of the confusion and slipped out of his sister’s window, leaving behind a .32 revolver and a .357 magnum. Miraculously, the infants that were sleeping the back room weren’t hit.
After one of the largest man hunts in New York’s history, Davis was apprehended in a Bronx housing project. After taking a woman and her two daughters hostage (I told you he was a dirtbag) he finally surrendered to the police and was taken into custody.
The jury deliberated five days. Though he was found guilty of six counts of criminal possession of a weapon, he was acquitted of attempted murder and aggravated assault charges in the shootings of the officers. The jury foreman had this to say in a later interview. “[Davis was] a young and innocent kid who got recruited by a few corrupt policemen… they came in to wipe him out… they wanted him dead so he couldn’t squeal on them… they would have killed him.”
A year later, three of the wounded officers accused the NYPD of “negligent” and “reckless” planning and execution of the raid, and blamed the Bronx detectives for creating “chaos” by bursting into the apartment before Emergency Service Unit officers could seal off escape routes.
What’s the point? I remember a discussion about the Charleston shooting, when someone said, “If someone had been there and managed to shoot him before he shot those people, then they would have gone to jail for it.” That depends on a whole lot of things that are beyond the scope of this post.
But you absolutely have a right to defend yourself.