No prison for former Creola officer who admitted to beating inmate, federal judge rules

Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 1:43 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2022 at 4:47 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A former Creola police officer ruined his long law enforcement career and tarnished his reputation and embarrassed his family when he beat an inmate in the city jail last year.

At least, he won’t have to go to prison.

Chief U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Beaverstock on Tuesday accepted the recommendation of Assistant Federal Defender Latisha Colvin and sentenced Gary Lynn Davis to the brief time he served in jail after his arrest, followed by three years of supervision by the U.S. Probation Office.

Davis, 55, pleaded guilty to in May to deprivation of rights under color of law. He admitted that he shackled and beat an inmate whom he had arrested 4½ days earlier.

“He accepts full responsibility for his lapse in judgment in how he chose to deal with the victim in this case,” Colvin wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “He regrets it, and is embarrassed by it. When he reviewed the video of the incident with counsel, he was shocked and disgusted that he had done such a thing.”

Davis discovered that a man identified in court papers as J.B. had contraband and took him in to custody in April 2021. He removed the inmate from a cell that had a chair and put him in the “drunk tank,” and shackled him, according to his written plea agreement.

J.B. offered no resistance but continued to bang his head, kick the door and cry out. Davis went out to the parking lot, got a long red rope from a fire truck and told one of the police dispatchers that he was going to “hog tie” the prisoner, according to the defendant’s plea agreement.

Court records show that the inmate lost a tooth during the beating and suffered swelling and pain to the left eye where the officer kneed him.

“The seriousness of the offense is not lost on Mr. Davis,” Colvin wrote. “His actions caused unwarranted injury to the victim and never should have happened. He has seen his 32-year law enforcement career end with a mug shot, negative media attention in his community, and a ban on working in law enforcement ever again.”

But Colvin pointed to the defendant’s clear criminal record and years of service.

“Counsel respectfully submits that those things are outweighed by the positive things that he has done,” she wrote.

Davis’s first job was at a Burger King in Chickasaw. He also worked as a warehouse for a Greer’s grocery store in Prichard. He began in law enforcement career in as a reserve officer I Prichard, moving up to full-time officer in 2003. He had stints in Creola, and Thomasville, and briefly served as police chief in Mount Vernon.

Davis faces a wrongful death lawsuit over a police chase the resulted in the deaths of two women while he was serving as a police officer in Thomasville.

Colvin pointed to several similar federal prosecutions that resulted in probation sentences for law enforcement officers convicted of federal offenses. One of those was a 2020 case in Mobile, where a federal jury convicted former Clarke County sheriff’s Deputy Mitchell Finney of beating and using pepper spray on a disruptive psychiatric patient in Grove Hill.

Colvin submitted a number of character letters on her client’s behalf, including one from Jerry Taylor, the Jackson public safety director who formerly supervised him as police chief in Creola.

“He always approached his duties in a professional and straightforward manner, and always treated those around with fairness and consideration,” he wrote. “He seemed to be well liked by his peers and the community in general.”


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