Troy Davis executed in Georgia despite protests
Despite years of stays, appeals, protests and even a last minute apparent review of the case by the U.S. Supreme Court, the State of Georgia executed Troy Anthony Davis on Wednesday evening. The official time of death was 11:08 pm eastern time.
Davis refused a last meal, spent most of his last day with family and friends. In the past, his tremendous faith has been rewarded. The last time Troy faced execution, in 2008, the warden brought in what was to be his last meal. But Troy refused to eat. Looking the prison staff in their eyes, he explained this meal would not be his last. He was vindicated when he received a last minute stay. Guards still remember this as a haunting moment, one rooted in Troy’s deep faith.
Last night however did not turn out the way it did in 2008, Davis was put to death by lethal injection. But, he did have some last words when asked. Strapped to a gurney in Georgia’s death chamber, Davis lifted his head, and looked right into the eyes of police officer Mark MacPhail’s son and brother, who were sitting a few feet away behind a glass window and declared one last time, that he was innocent. He said that he had no gun, and no personal involvement with the death of their son, father, or brother. He also asked that his family and supporters continue to look for the truth in this case, “All I can ask … is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth. I ask my family and friends to continue to fight this fight.”
NAACP president Ben Jealous stated following the execution that he firmly believes that the State of Georgia executed an innocent man. Jealous has been an advocate for Davis, and has worked tirelessly with his case for 15 years. “When I first heard of the claims of innocent years ago, I had doubts, but after working closely with this case for the past 15 years, I have no doubt that Davis was an innocent man.” Jealous stated during a television interview minutes following the execution.
The NAACP also released the following statement regarding the execution:
Tonight the State of Georgia has killed an innocent man.
In recent weeks, we fought hard for the commutation of Troy Davis’ sentence. More than one million of your petitions were delivered. Protests, rallies and vigils were organized around the globe. Tonight, we fasted and prayed together as a community.
I have spent the past week with Troy’s family. He wanted the world to know that he understood that this struggle goes beyond just one man.
Troy was prepared to die tonight. As he said again and again, the state of Georgia only held the power to take his physical body. They could not take his spirit, because he gave his life to God.
Let’s remember and heed Troy’s words: We must not let them kill our spirit, either.
Troy’s execution, the exceptional unfairness of it, will only hasten the end of the death penalty in the United States. The world will remember the name of Troy Anthony Davis. In death he will live on as a symbol of a broken justice system that kills an innocent man while a murderer walks free.
The world will remember Troy’s name, as the death penalty supporters who expressed doubt in this case begin to doubt an entire system that can execute a man amidst so many unanswered questions.
The world will remember Troy’s name, as death penalty opponents who remained silent in the past realize that their silence is no longer an option.
The world will remember Troy’s name because we will commemorate September 21st each year as both a solemn anniversary and a call to action. The night they put Troy Davis to death will become an annual reminder that justice will not be achieved until we end this brutal practice of capital punishment.
“This movement,” Troy said, “started before I was born.” After tonight, our movement will grow stronger until we succeed in destroying the death penalty in the United States once and for all. I know you will join me. Together we will secure his legacy, and the world will remember the name Troy Anthony Davis.
The Reverend Al Sharpton, when asked Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show if he thought the state had executed an innocent man, he said: “I believe that they did, but even beyond my belief, they clearly executed a man who had established much, much reasonable doubt.”
Despite appeals, protests, witnesses changing their testimonies, and no physical evidence, Troy Davis was still executed on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. The Georgia State Board of Paroles and Pardons igonored its own decision in 2007, vowing that the execution would not go forward unless there was “no doubt’ about guilt. In a case that has garnered national attention, seven of the nine witnesses against Davis have since recanted their statements incriminating him, several citing police pressure to fabricate statements. At least three of the jurors from Davis’s trial called for Davis to be granted clemency, one saying that if she knew at trial what she knows now, Troy Davis would have been found not guilty.
“We find it unconscionable that the Board would allow this execution given its prior ruling and despite the nearly 1,000,000 voices calling for justice – including 40,000 from Georgia and over 10,000 from Savannah, 3,300 members of the clergy and 1,500 legal professionals – in support of Mr. Davis,” said Edward O. Dubose, president, Georgia State Conference, NAACP. “To allow this execution to go forward without a re-examination of the facts and the alternate suspect is an injustice to both families, to the jurors who sentenced Davis to death and to the people of Chatham County.”
On the evening of August 19, 1989, Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail was gunned down while he worked as a part-time security guard. To date, there is no physical evidence connecting Mr. Davis to the crime and some individuals have pointed to an alternate suspect as the real killer.
“Troy’s family has been moved by the efforts of the NAACP and supporters around the world, and our thoughts and prayers are with them now as they turn to look into the face of the cruelest kind of injustice,” stated Mr. Jealous.
Supporters and advocates vowed to keep fighting in the name of Troy Davis, because this is not just about Davis this is about a legal system that is broken, and the United States is finding itself to be alone with continuing with death penalty cases.