Originally created 02/21/99

Slaying continues to affect community

Bill Badgett has found it tough to go into the back yard of his Apple Valley home since last Feb. 21.

That's where the car driven by Alfaigo Davis came to rest after Richmond County Sheriff's deputies Nicholas Capobianco and Gary Clark Jr. shot him to death.

"As far as the kids, they don't go back there too much," said Mr. Badgett, who fixed the fence torn down by the car only two months ago. "It's always there. Even for me it's still difficult."

Time, the saying goes, heals all wounds. In the case of Mr. Davis, more time is needed, some community leaders say.

Mr. Davis was shot 10 times by the two deputies one year ago today. Deputies Capobianco and Clark, both white, shot Mr. Davis, who was black, as he was being stopped after leading deputies on a car chase through the Apple Valley subdivision.

The officers later said they believed Mr. Davis, 29, was trying to run them down in the Ford Tempo he was driving. Investigations by a Richmond County grand jury, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice ruled that the officers' use of deadly force was justified.

"It just didn't make sense," Tinika Nattinger, who lives next door to Mr. Badgett, said. "It makes you wonder what went on. But, he's not living to tell the story."

One year later, events continue to swirl around the people connected to the incident.

-- Mr. Davis' mother, Patricia Pace, and his estate filed a notice Thursday announcing that they would sue Richmond County Sheriff Charlie Webster, the sheriff's department and the Augusta government for $5 million in connection with Mr. Davis' death.

-- Former Deputy Clark resigned to take a law enforcement job in Nevada.

-- Sheriff Webster has sent his deputies into the community on goodwill missions.

The incident hasn't left the minds of many Augustans, said the Rev. Larry Fryer, a neighborhood activist who, with other ministers, organized several peace rallies to calm emotions after the shooting.

"This incident has its negatives and its positives, but you do still have some mistrust," he said last week. "You have political power struggles going on, and you have some people who are still angry. Those things do still exist.

"I feel that the community as a whole, and especially the African-American community, is still very much concerned as to the treatment of law enforcement."

Sheriff Webster has taken some steps to ease those concerns, the Rev. Fryer said, pointing to recent deliveries of food for the needy by sheriff's deputies and the establishment of a Citizens Review and Advisory Committee to study citizens' complaints about the sheriff's department.

The sheriff also has promised to send representatives into the community to speak to citizens about their concerns, the Rev. Fryer said. Such a measure would do much to foster a better relationship between the department and the community, he said.

"There is today an understanding that we must work together with law enforcement, and that law enforcement must work and respect us as well," the Rev. Fryer said. "I applaud those in law enforcement who are trying to bring about better relationships with the community.

"Today, one year later, there has been (progress) made, but there is still work to be done."

Ms. Pace said Friday that she had no comment about her son's death. But the incident created change within the sheriff's department, especially for Deputies Capobianco and Clark, Sheriff Webster said.

After investigations found that the use of deadly force was justified, the deputies returned to the streets -- but to those in the northern precinct, not Apple Valley, Sheriff Webster said.

"We never did put them back in the south precinct," he said. "We moved them both up there."

A psychologist evaluated both deputies to determine whether they had any post-traumatic symptoms after the incident, Sheriff Webster said. They did not, he said.

The deputies rode with others for five to six weeks and were evaluated by supervisors, Sheriff Webster said. Deputy Capobianco remains on duty in the north precinct. Deputy Clark left the force about four weeks ago to take a law-enforcement job in Las Vegas, Sheriff Webster said.

Sheriff Webster said he "would not presume" to know whether the incident was one of Deputy Clark's reasons for leaving Augusta.

The sheriff said he hopes such an incident never happens again, but that one probably will.

"We hope and pray it never happens again, but we know it will happen again," he said. "Just like an officer being shot. We know that will happen."

If the sheriff's prophecy holds true, tempers might flare beyond control next time, the Rev. Fryer said.

"I personally hope that this does not happen again," he said. "The black community did realize that there had to be a peaceful solution for justice in the Alfaigo Davis incident. Talking with others from the community, our plea to the people may not be heard again.

"They may respond in a way that many of us hope would not happen."

Brandon Haddock and Jessica Rinck can be reached at (706) 724-0851 or newsroom@augustachronicle.com.


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