WASHINGTON — Before he was named interim commissioner of the Baltimore City police department, Kevin Davis was the subject of two civil suits as an officer on the Prince George’s County police force.
In a 1999 case, a 19-year-old man claimed he was accosted, ordered into an SUV, driven to Howard County and grilled about his relationship with the niece of a police official. He was threatened before being let go, according to the Baltimore City Paper.
A subsequent federal civil suit found that the police officials involved were guilty of violating the man’s constitutional rights, and he was awarded $90,000.
In a 2013 Baltimore Sun article, Davis said he’d been given that assignment under “false pretenses,” that the officers believed the girl was in danger. He told the Sun that he learned from the incident and it “made me a better cop.”
In 1993, Davis was named in a suit for allegedly throwing a man to the ground and handcuffing him without any cause. He was named in a lawsuit and the victim was awarded $12,500.
WTOP contacted Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake’s office to ask about the incidents and how or whether they were considered in naming Davis to the post. Howard Libit, Director of Strategic Planning and Policy in the Mayor’s Office, said the reports are “old news.”
Davis takes over at a time when Baltimore City is still feeling the effects of the disturbances after the death of Freddie Gray, a man who died while in police custody as he was being transported in a police van.
An autopsy found that Gray died as the result of a “high-energy injury.” Gray’s death triggered riots that lasted for days and resulted in a declaration of a state of emergency by Governor Larry Hogan.
In the weeks after the riots, Baltimore City experienced a dramatic spike in violent crime, and there were concerns that police were slower to respond to calls. That, and the discovery of a sign on a police door that read “Enjoy your ride, cuz we sure will!”, exacerbated tensions in the city.
Davis told news outlets that he’s committed to restoring ties to local communities and increasing an emphasis on what he called “customer service” within the department.
WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.