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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Body camera videos and audio recordings of deadly officer-involved shooting released

Davis Police Department released footage and audio files of confrontation that ended in death of Christopher Gray

Body camera videos and 911 audio recordings were released by the Davis Police Department, shedding more light on an officer-involved shooting at a North Davis residence last month. In the early morning of Dec. 19, 2019, Davis police officers responded to a 911 call at 435 Avocet Avenue which ended with two fatalities at the residence and minor injuries sustained by one officer. Carol Gray, who called emergency services, was allegedly murdered by her son Christopher Gray. The son was then shot by police officers during the confrontation.

In a press release issued by the Davis Police Department earlier this month, the incident was described in detail. Links of the radio dispatch audio, in addition to police body camera footage and the 911 call that drew officers to the scene, were released. 

“At 3:41 a.m., officers from the Davis Police Department (DPD) were dispatched to 435 Avocet Avenue regarding a report from Carol Gray that her son was being verbally aggressive and making non-specific threats,” the document read. “The emergency phone call ended with what sounded like a physical altercation.”

In the 911 audio recording, the caller can be heard saying, “My son just made threats to me. He said, ‘Go back to bed, you whore.’” Later in the call, an argument can be heard between two people, before it appears the caller screams and the call ends. 

Minutes later, officers arrived at the residence, where they were able to see, through the windows, that Christopher Gray was walking around the house, according to the police body camera videos. Police officers saw Carol Gray seemingly breathing under a sheet on the floor, and the officers entered the residence to help her. 

Christopher Gray was holding a knife throughout the video, and, at one point, the police attempted to taze him after asking him to drop his weapon. He managed to retreat into the kitchen and began throwing knives at the officers, who returned outside and repeatedly asked Gray to disarm himself. 

Minutes later, Gray charged at the officers and seven audible shots were fired. Out of the five officers present at the scene, three discharged their weapons. Gray was still moving and clutching his weapon on the ground before officers managed to remove the weapon and handcuff him. Officers can be seen applying bandages and performing CPR, but according to the press release, both Carol and Christopher Gray died at the scene. 

The police officers who fired their weapons were Corporal Alex Torres, Officer Ben Adams and Officer Francisco Talavera, who had 7.5, 15.5 and 14.5 years of experience, respectively. The officers were placed on temporary administrative leave but have since returned to their duties. 

Three separate investigations are in the process of reviewing the incident. Two external departments, the West Sacramento Police Department and the Yolo County District

Attorney’s Office, are investigating the use of deadly force. The Davis Police Department is conducting an internal investigation as well as the homicide investigation of Carol Gray’s death. 

Davis Deputy Police Chief Paul Doroshov described the complexity of the investigations, which could take several months to complete.

“The criminal investigation eventually gets analyzed by the district attorney’s office who decides if there’s any criminal culpability,” Doroshov said. “The shooting is also investigated in parallel by our Professional Standards unit which is basically an internal investigation that evaluates not just the criminal portion [but] any policy violations.”

The released audio and video files were edited “to ensure the confidentiality and privacy of those involved,” according to the press release. Doroshov explained that the editing process is “very cumbersome and lengthy” and is dictated by laws requiring some information to be released for transparency but other aspects to be edited out for the privacy of the individuals. 

More footage and audio is set to be released before 45 days after the incident, in accordance with state law, SB 1421.

During 2019, 16 contacts had been made with the Avocet residence, in which the reporting party describes, “blood smeared on front door,” according to the premise history released by the Davis Police Department. In total, the residence had 58 contacts since 2009, including 911 calls and physical altercations. 

Doroshov emphasized the impact that the altercations have had on the community and the Davis Police Department. 

“This is just a tragic event,” Doroshov said. “I think a lot of people in the department are affected by it.”

Written by: Madeleine Payne — city@theaggie.org 

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