July 23, 2003

Councilman James Davis Killed

N.Y. Councilman Dies in City Hall Gunfire

A gunman opened fire during a meeting inside City Council chambers Wednesday afternoon, killing a city councilman who has crusaded against urban violence.

Another person was wounded. It was unclear if it was the gunman.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was in his City Hall office at the time of the shooting, confirmed that one person was killed and ruled out terrorism.

A city official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity that Brooklyn Councilman James Davis, a former police officer, died after being shot twice in the chest.

The second victim was not identified, but Bloomberg said both were "seriously hurt."

"It appears to be a random act, but we cannot allow this to go on, ever. This is an attack on all Americans,'' Bloomberg said. +++

Davis was a supporter of anti-violence legistlation (both gun and domestic), gay rights, community renewal and other progressive causes.

The second shooting victim has also died, with no word on his/her identity at this time.

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Ex-Cop Davis Was Outspoken Councilman

Brooklyn City Councilman James Davis was an outspoken council member and a former police officer who joined the force after he was the alleged victim of police brutality as a young man.

Davis, 41, became a police officer in 1983, after he said he was beaten by two white officers who accused him of stealing a car.

"Since that day, I have tried to turn that experience into something positive," he wrote in 2002.

Davis became a correction officer at Rikers Island and two years later joined the New York Police Department. He was an instructor at the police academy, training officers on proper arrest procedures and how to interact with people in minority communities.

In 1991 he started Love Yourself Stop the Violence, a not-for-profit organization that addresses urban violence. +++

Statement by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg:

What we know is that after 2:00 o'clock, somebody in the balcony of the City Council Chambers, during a City Council meeting, apparently pulled a gun and shot two individuals. We don't know the condition of either individual but they were clearly seriously hurt and removed to the hospital. This is a terrible attack, not just on two people, and they are in our prayers, but this is an attack on democracy. We will not stop until we find who did this. It is not terrorism. It appears to be a random act, but we cannot allow this to go on... ever. This is an attack on all Americans.

Update at 5:06pm -

Love Yourself, Stop the Violence, the organization started by James E. Davis

Gunman Identified as Othniel Askew:

City Councilman James Davis was gunned down during a routine meeting this afternoon, and a plainclothes police officer in turn shot and killed the assailant inside City Hall, police sources said.

The gunman, Othniel Askew, 31, died a short time later at New York University Downtown Medical Center, according to a police source. The two mortally wounded men were found lying side by side in the balcony overlooking the chambers, where eyewitnesses said the gunman opened fire.

The shooter was a political opponent of Davis, and had accompanied the councilman into the building before the shooting, a police source said. Askew's ties to the councilman apparently allowed him to bypass security, the source said. +++

Posted by ronn at July 23, 2003 04:06 PM

Crazy, absolutely crazy what's going on these days... Posted by: PatCH on July 24, 2003 09:20 PM
Everybody in NY just can't understand this. Posted by: lynne on July 24, 2003 09:50 PM
Unfortunately, this assassination is becoming a "gay" issue. Don't even want to think about the mess that'll cause if it continues. I was going to go on hiatus for 2/3 weeks today, but I may revisit this senseless murder early next week. Posted by: ronn on July 25, 2003 07:44 PM