WASHINGTON, D.C.–In one of its latest statements concerning the Troy Anthony Davis case, the NAACP “strongly condemned” his scheduled execution, saying the organization believes “there is too much doubt surrounding the conviction of Mr. Davis….”
Davis’ execution is scheduled for Wednesday.
“After reviewing the evidence, I am convinced that Troy Davis is an innocent man,” said NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous. “It is appalling to me that with so much doubt surrounding this case, Mr. Davis is set to be executed in [six] days. Justice will never be served by the state-sanctioned murder of an innocent man.”
On the evening of Aug. 19, 1989, Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail was gunned down while he worked as a part-time security guard. In a case that has garnered national attention, seven of the nine witnesses against Davis have since recanted their statements incriminating him, several citing police pressure to fabricate statements. Said the NAACP statement: “To date, there is no physical evidence connecting Davis to the crime.”
An article in The Nation Institute, a nonprofit media center, reported the following:
“Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. Recantation testimony is thought to be even less reliable. But one must consider the possible motivations for the witnesses’ testimonies at trial, and for their later recantations. Many of them would go on to say that their original affidavits were coerced by the police. Daryl Collins, who was 16 at the time, said he was threatened with being charged as an accomplice to murder. Kevin McQueen, who did time with Davis in Chatham County Prison and claimed that Davis had confessed to him, later said that he had been motivated by his anger at Davis over a prison-yard argument. Furthermore, McQueen stated, he received a reduced sentence in exchange for his testimony. The state’s attorneys tried multiple tacks to poke holes in McQueen’s recantation at the hearing, but McQueen stood firm. ‘No matter how many times you come at me, the man did not tell me anything about shooting anyone. Period.’
“Attorneys for Davis asked McQueen whether he expected to gain anything from his recantation now. ‘Peace of mind, I guess.’ McQueen answered.”
“Thirty-eight-year-old April Hutchinson is a new witness who testified at the June evidentiary hearing that Coles [Davis’ main accuser, who some believe is the actual murderer] had used her as a decoy after the murder. ‘Redd [Coles] asked me to walk with him so it seemed like he didn’t do anything,’ she said. ‘I started walking with him because I was scared because of the reputation he had…. He gave me a look that said, “You better not say anything.”‘”
“Benjamin Gordon, meanwhile, who claims he saw Coles pull the trigger, had good reason to keep quiet: his uncle is married to Coles’s sister. Yet ‘I’ve been carrying this burden for a long time,’ Gordon testified. ‘I came today so that the truth will be known.’”
“This is our justice system at its very worst, and we are alive to witness it,” wrote Jealous in an earlier statement. “There is just too much doubt.”
The NAACP is advocating those concerned to take the following three steps to help Davis:
1. Send a message of support to Davis as he fights for justice on what may be the final days of his life: http://action.naacp.org/LettersOfSupport
2. Sign the name wall, if you haven’t already. And if you have, send it to your friends and family. Each name means a more united front for justice: http://action.naacp.org/Name-Wall
3. Make sure everyone knows about this injustice. In downtown Atlanta, the NAACP and other groups are holding a march that will begin at Woodruff Park at 6 p.m. Also, and Interfaith prayer service is set for Ebenezer Baptist Church at 7 p.m.
Locally, civil rights groups are planning a prayer vigil in Leimert Park at 3415 W. 43rd Place in Los Angeles on Wednesday at 5 p.m.