Brooklyn DA to Investigate Shantel Davis Police Slaying, Family Says

By Fred Dreier on August 16, 2012 9:21pm 

BROOKLYN — The Kings County District Attorney’s office has opened an investigation into the death of 23-year-old Shantel Davis, who was allegedly shot and killed by an NYPD cop after a car chase in East Flatbush, a family spokesman said.

Davis' family and attorney met with District Attorney Charles J. Hynes at the D.A.'s office in downtown Brooklyn for about an hour Thursday to discuss the investigation, said Kirsten John Foy, a Davis family spokesman.

"This is the first indication of some condolence from this city," Foy said. "We've just requested that [Hynes] look into the other issues that bubble to the surface about Det. Atkins."

Davis' death sparked outrage among her neighbors and family, who denounced the detective who allegedly shot her, Phil Atkins, as a "renegade" cop with a history of aggressive behavior toward residents. Court records show that Atkins has been sued several times in the last decade by residents accusing him of using undue force and fabricating evidence.

Foy, an aide to Public Adovcate Bill DeBlasio who was detained by police at a 2011 West Indian Day Parade, said the family presented Hynes with multiple examples of excessive force used by Atkins in the East Flatbush neighborhood.

He said Hynes did not promise that action would be taken against Atkins, but told family members that a proper investigation would take place. A representative for the Hynes' office said the district attorney would not comment because the meeting with Davis' family was private.

Atkins' fatal encounter with Davis happened on June 14, when Davis was spotted driving a stolen grey Toyota Camry westbound on Church Avenue, police said.

Atkins and his partner Daniel Guida saw Davis running a red light. When the officers gave chase, Davis crashed into a minivan at the intersection of Church and 38th Street. The officers confronted Davis in the car, and during a scuffle to remove her, Atkins allegedly shot the woman by accident in the chest. The two removed Davis from the car, and she collapsed on the street in a pool of blood. She died while being transported to King’s County Hospital.

The death sparked several days of unrest in the neighborhood, and neighbors organized a protest against the killing on June 16.

The Davis' lawyer, high-profile civil attorney Sanford Rubenstein, said the public should look beyond the fact that Davis had been driving a stolen vehicle.

"The penalty for operating a stolen vehicle is not death," Rubenstein said. "This is beyond description in a free society."

Foy claimed the family had heard several allegations of excessive force by Atkins, including one instance when a family's house was allegedly searched without a warrant, and another in which Atkins shot at a neighbor's car. He declined to provide details of the incidents, but asked other neighbors to come forward with stories of their experiences with Atkins.

Foy said Hynes did not provide a timeframe for the investigation. Rubenstein said the family had not filed a civil suit.

"That is something we will consider down the road," Rubenstein said.

Davis' grandmother Louise Davis, who was escorted by her granddaughters Crystal, 29, and Natasha, 34, told reporters she wanted, "justice for my child."

"I raised my baby from two weeks old until 23 years old," Davis said. "He took my baby away from me."

Davis had a rap sheet that included an attempted murder charge and kidnapping for a 2011 incident, according to police sources and the Brooklyn District Attorney's office, and court records show she was due to appear before a judge on the charges when she was killed.

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