United States

The Murder of Larry Davis

By Lynne Stewart

We are printing the following letter that theNew York Times declined to print, after misrespresenting the case of Larry Davis and his murder in prison.

—The Editors

Letter to the Editors of the New York Times

To whom it May Concern:

My friend and co-counsel, Bill Kunstler must be spinning in his grave over the Times’ Team coverage of the murder of Larry Davis. It is replete with errors and unfortunately, the kind of innuendo usually garnered by the more strident tabloids of this city.

No one asked me but I was in that Bronx courtroom with Larry Davis for almost two years. I tried the first two cases. The prosecution elected to try a quintuple murder first, because they thought it was a slam-dunk and that they would never have to cope with the ugly FACTS besmirching the so-called “honest” cops on the raid that cold November night. They lost the first case because a racially mixed jury (including a State Trooper’s sister from Riverdale) saw an obvious “frame up” no matter how many witnesses they called.

The trial of the cop case, the following year was tried as a classic self-defense. It was revealed that, after threats were delivered to Larry’s mother, 36 policemen and women descended on that Morrisania apartment. Some had liquor on their breath. At least one had a shotgun. They were accompanied by the elite Emergency Service Unit, who testified at trial, that although the “plan” was for them to gain entrance, one of the detectives got past them and rushed into the apartment. Gunfire erupted. The most crucial evidence, (all you fans of CSI take note) was the testimony of Criminologist for the defense, Peter DeForrest, who stated, under oath, the scientific facts of the trajectory of a shotgun slug recovered at the scene. It became absolutely clear to that jury who deliberated for almost three weeks, that the police fired first at Larry Davis, entitling him, legally, to fire back with a .45 pistol defending himself.

If anyone had checked the Times day to day coverage of the trial back in 1988, these facts are apparent. As to the alleged police corruption? It was simply suggested by the defense as a motivation for one or more to commit murder, and certainly no surprise after the Mollen Commission, the “Dirty Thirty” and recent reports of the South Bronx Narcotic group. The prosecution never disproved it and as I said in summation, it only takes a few to have a plan and the Blue Line to thereafter cover it up. If they went there to arrest Larry Davis, where was the warrant?

The crucial part of your story is the people living in the projects calling “LARRY” out the window as he was arrested. His self-defense against an antagonistic well-armed superior force is the stuff of legend—particularly our American model. Those folks still live in those projects and in the tenements of Bushwick and Harlem and Washington Heights. They still consider Larry a hero—especially after Louima, Diallo and Bell. They may not read the Times but would surely disagree with your initial assertion that “The Chronicle of Larry Davis was over...” As long as there is aggression and oppression, there will be RESISTANCE.

— February 23, 2008