Keith Davis and his wife Kelly Davis after his release from prison. (Photo: Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)
Baltimore police continued to falsely accuse an innocent man when they shot and nearly killed him after the Freddie Gray uprisings. Prosecutors as always helped to carry out the dirty deeds. Having Black officials in place does the people of Baltimore very little good when corruption is rampant.
Keith Davis, Jr. is free after an ordeal which began when he was shot by Baltimore, Maryland police on June 7, 2015. The police claimed to be looking for a robbery suspect and chased Davis into a garage where they fired 44 shots, three of which struck him. The robbery victim testified that Davis was not the perpetrator who attacked him, but the police charged Davis with another crime, a murder which took place in a different part of the city. They did this despite evidence showing he was also innocent of that charge as well. Five trials resulted in either hung juries or judges overturning verdicts. Davis was scheduled to be tried yet again but newly elected State Attorney Ivan Bates dropped all charges against him on January 13, 2023.
No one knows how many Black men are like Davis, charged and most often convicted wrongfully due to police and prosecutorial misconduct. They languish in jail for years, sometimes dying in jail while only a few such cases ever garner public attention.
We do know that the majority Black city of Baltimore is putatively run by Black people. Mayors, police chiefs, and prosecutors may be Black, but the racial composition of public officialdom doesn’t seem to help the people of that city very much. The story of police corruption and prosecutorial misconduct in the Davis case is not an outlier in Baltimore.
In November 2017, a Black police detective named Sean Suiter died from a gunshot wound to the head. His death was originally ruled a homicide, but the cause of death was later changed to suicide. The most important thing to know about Suiter is that he was scheduled to testify before a federal grand jury about corruption in the Baltimore police department. His death occurred the day before he was to testify.
The Harlem Park neighborhood where Suiter died was turned into a “constitution free zone” where residents were prevented from leaving or entering or were searched by police or were stopped and asked for identification over a six-day period. So egregious was the police action that residents filed and won a lawsuit against the city of Baltimore. The odd timing of Suiter’s death and the overkill in investigating an entire neighborhood logically leads to suspicion about the official narrative.
Suiter was part of a group called the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) and one of its officers testified that he and Suiter committed robberies together. Officers assigned to the GTTF robbed drug dealers, planted drugs on innocent people, practiced home invasions, and sold seized drugs and guns themselves.
The mayor of Baltimore in 2017 was Catherine Pugh. Pugh infamously vetoed a bill that would have raised that city’s minimum wage, contradicting a campaign promise she made to support the increase. She was later convicted of fraudulently selling a children’s book with the proceeds illegally funneled to her campaign. The current mayor, Brandon Scott, first rejected and has now accepted campaign contributions from a businessman who gave Pugh $100,000 to buy a house.
The litany of corruption and self-dealing in Baltimore explains why Keith Davis, Jr. was victimized with such fervor. Baltimore City State Attorney Marilyn Mosby continued to persecute and prosecute Davis long after many irregularities in the case should have resulted in all charges being dropped. Davis had no connection to the murder victim, who had himself witnessed a murder just weeks before. The prosecution did not share exculpatory evidence with the defense or a judge who then overturned one of the convictions. The prosecution presented a jailhouse informant whom Davis had never met. Mysterious video footage suddenly appeared years after the murder. When these schemes failed, the prosecution charged Davis with attempted murder after a fight with another prisoner.
Why was this one man hounded so much? His shooting occurred just two months after a man named Freddie Gray was killed by Baltimore police. The community responded with a days-long rebellion. One former police detective said, “[Here] they have a police-involved shooting so close to the Uprising. I heard other detectives inside Internal Affairs wishing Keith would die because it would’ve been much easier.” But he didn’t die, and that is why Keith Davis, Jr. became one of the most aggressively prosecuted people in United States history, having endured trials for gun possession, murder, and a prison fight, all to protect a very corrupt system.
Prosecutor Mosby is now following in the ignominious tradition of other Baltimore officials. She will be tried in federal court over charges that she falsely claimed financial hardship through the covid related CARES Act to withdraw funds from her retirement account. She then used the money to purchase two vacation homes in Florida and made false statements on mortgage applications. Her husband Nick Mosby is City Council President and is facing his own ethics charges.
In reporting on the Harlem Park lockdown, Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford described Baltimore as being “how a plantation operates when the white folks leave the Black overseers in charge.” The harsh assessment was entirely appropriate. Baltimore’s Black overseers go to jail for stealing small amounts of money in very obvious ways. They are just small-time crooks who have grown accustomed to sitting at the top of a struggling city, which was deprived of any prosperity by the destruction of the manufacturing sector. Its condition is sad and can be clearly seen in the many dilapidated and abandoned buildings that once housed living wage jobs.
The Black misleaders of the Black political class are the errand boys and girls of the oligarchy who may choose to abandon a city like Baltimore and leave it to those a bit higher up in the plantation pecking order. Of course Black people in Baltimore may end up like millions of others, chased out of their cities when the capitalist class decides that it is too good to be left to the Black overseers. There will no longer be a need to give dumb crooks free reign. If Baltimore shares the fate of other cities the overseers and the people they rule over will all be gone. But the victory of Keith Davis, Jr., his family, legal team, and supporters is historic and will be remembered after the scoundrels are gone.
Margaret Kimberley is the author of Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents. You can support her work on Patreon and also find it on Twitter and on Telegram. She can be reached via email at margaret.kimberley(at)blackagendareport.com.