If nothing was wrong with this Kansas City, Kansas police shooting, why lie about it?

·9 min read

Darryl Bagley arrived at his brother’s place just a few minutes after Kansas City, Kansas police had shot and killed him there, seven years ago next month.

Almost everything officers told Bagley at the scene was untrue, according to the only two eyewitnesses to what happened at 1110 Washington Boulevard on the evening of November 8, 2014.

What police told reporters, then and later, about how 50-year-old Carlos Davenport died wasn’t right, either.

But just as bad and at the heart of the distrust that KCK officials still claim isn’t even a thing — was the near-total absence of communication between police and Davenport’s loved ones, who have ever since been left to fill in the blanks on their own.

This much is true: There had been one king-hell fight between Davenport, his girlfriend, Yvonne Williamson, who was, as she told me, “leaving his behind” that night, and Yvonne’s twin, Yvette Williamson, who was there to help her sister get her stuff and get out.

“He’s talking trash and drunk,” said Yvette, a rehab nurse. “I can’t remember how the physical fight started, but he has me pinned down, she’s on top of him and I’m biting down on his arm with everything I can muster.” Her sister “went and got his sword” — a ceremonial sword Carlos kept — “and I told her to call the police. They took forever,” though the police headquarters is less than a mile away from where Carlos and Yvonne were living, “and we ended up having to call them twice.”

At 10:04 p.m, according to the police report, Davenport came out the front door of his second-story apartment. He was furious at Yvette, who was standing on his balcony, and had just slammed the screen door on him. “I’ll never forget the look on his face when I did that.” Now he had the sword. It was raised, it was sharp, and he was mad.

Then she heard what sounded like firecrackers, and until she saw the blood, thought he must have tripped and fallen out the door.

Whether he would really have struck her if the officers had ever yelled, “Police!” or had asked him to drop the thing, or had said anything at all, we’ll never know.

“Did they announce themselves? They didn’t,” said Yvette. “I saw them in my peripheral vision, but I don’t think he even knew they were there. They could have said, ‘Stop!’ They could have shot him in his leg. They didn’t have to go in for the kill.”

“This was done in my favor,” she added. And yet, she does not favor the way it was done.

Yvonne was also standing on the balcony when Davenport was shot. And she also says police fired without warning. “No, they didn’t” say anything, she told me. “He charged out towards Yvette and the po po shot him.”

Police told reporters that they gave Davenport multiple chances to drop the sword. The news story the next day in The Star said, “Davenport ignored the officers’ commands to drop the machete, police said. Fearing for the safety of the women, an officer shot Davenport, according to police.”

Fox 4 reported that “police commanded the man to drop the sword, but the suspect refused. The suspect charged at an officer and as a result the officer shot the suspect.”

According to KMBC, “The officer gave the man several commands to drop the sword, police said, but the man refused. They said the man charged at the officer, and the officer fired.”

Let’s say for argument’s sake that the officer, who was never identified, was right to fire without saying a word. There are such situations, and maybe this was one. But then, why lie about it?

When Darryl and his wife arrived, around 10:15, police told him Carlos had already been taken to a local hospital, though no one seemed to know which one.

Bagley and his wife Kimberly were in the car en route to KU, the nearest trauma hospital, when they turned around, looked up at the balcony and saw police taking pictures of something on the ground there. “Is that my brother, still up there?’‘ Bagley asked an officer who was directing traffic. He got no answer, but the answer was yes.

An ambulance was never called, and Carlos Davenport’s body wasn’t taken away for hours.

Mike Thurmond, who lived right across the street and had heard everything — the shots and then the shouts of ‘Carlos is dead!’ — was there the entire time, and said no ambulance ever did come. “I could see everything from my porch. They said he was gone, but he wasn’t gone; he was still there.”

Hours later, when Yvette Williamson was brought back from the police station, where she and her sister had been taken to give statements, she, too, saw that his body was still there. “It was between 12 and 1” at that point, she said. “I’m no Carlos fan, but they just left him there.”

The official story said otherwise: “Police said the man was transported to a local hospital, where he died,” according to the KMBC report.

And this kind of reflexive improvement on the facts is why so many people in Kansas City, Kansas tend not to believe any official stories.

That night, Darryl Bagley says, a police official with the last name Davenport — easy to remember, since it was the same as his brother’s — told him and his wife that from what he could tell, it had been a justifiable homicide. “He said Carlos was attacking the officer,” as Kimberly Bagley remembers the conversation, “and that’s why he got shot.”

Police never got anywhere near him, so he couldn’t have been attacking them, charging them or threatening their lives with his sword.

Vince Davenport, who spent 25 years at the KCKPD, is now associate deputy director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance with the Department of Justice in Washington, and was only recently a finalist for the job of Kansas City, Kansas police chief. He said he couldn’t talk to me on the record for this story, but a spokeswoman for the DOJ said in an email that the department “can confirm that Vince Davenport had no role in the investigation or the presentation of findings to the state prosecutor regarding the 2014 KCKPD shooting of Carlos Davenport.”

A week after the shooting, on the evening of a vigil for Carlos, Bagley went to the police station to try to recover his brother’s class ring, because it was important to his mother that Carlos be wearing that ring at his viewing.

Because he remembered Vince Davenport’s last name, Bagley said, he asked for him. And as Bagley remembers it, Davenport told him the investigation was effectively over, that the shooting was justified, and that was the end of the matter. Maybe the internal affairs investigation Davenport would normally have had nothing to do with as acting assistant chief could not have been over that fast.

Frankie Davenport, the cousin who was with Bagley at police headquarters that evening, says he doesn’t remember exactly what the officer with the same last name as his said, but only that “he was short with us, like we were bothering him. And why? We didn’t present any attitude — and we was having a really bad day.”

Whoever said what that day, and however long the internal investigation went on, it did not include reaching back out to either Yvette or Yvonne Williamson.

Yvette said she told police investigators that night that officers gave no warning before shooting. She also told them that she was grateful to be alive, and so felt both gratitude and horror. Neither woman was ever re-interviewed, and neither ever heard another word from police after the night Carlos died.

“You’re the first person I’ve talked to,” Yvonne said.

Police never got back in touch with Bagley, either, leaving him to spin his own theories about what happened to his little brother, a tow truck driver who worked hard, loved to joke around, and always made him laugh.

All these years, Bagley has kept the big stick he found on the balcony after police finally took Carlos’ body away in the small hours of November 9, 2014. It was covered in blood, and still is: Had that been what the brother he’d never known to hurt anyone had in his hand instead of a sword?

Turns out, no: Yvette says that stick was one she kept propped against the door in her house. When she’d headed out to help her sister, who’d sounded upset when she called, she’d impulsively grabbed it, and after the shooting had left it on Carlos’ balcony.

So here Bagley has been keeping her stick, carefully wrapped and taped in case there were fingerprints on it, all these years.

Darryl has also kept some of Carlos’ blood, which he found where his brother fell, in a cooler in his living room, carefully preserved as evidence in case he ever had the chance to try and prove that his brother had not taken drugs that night, as the autopsy said he might have.

Do I even have to say that the sight of that cooler with his brother’s blood in it, and of that meticulously wrapped stick, saved in case anyone ever cared enough to do a real investigation, would break any beating heart?

Whether or not Carlos was clean that night — and he definitely wasn’t sober — is not the point, of course. After killing him — in a shooting that may or may not have been justified — police didn’t tell the truth about warning him, didn’t tell the truth about taking him to the hospital, and didn’t have the humanity, then or ever, to answer the questions that have haunted the family ever since.

The investigation into the events of that night was so cursory that the only two witnesses to the shooting never heard another word about it.

All of the above is why so few Black and brown residents of Wyandotte County trust the KCKPD.

When I asked KCKPD spokeswoman Nancy Chartrand about what I’d learned about the Carlos Davenport shooting, she said my information was all wrong — according to the story The Star that ran on Nov. 9, 2014.

Yes, she directed me back to the report that said, “Davenport ignored the officers’ commands to drop the machete, police said. Fearing for the safety of the women, an officer shot Davenport, according to police.”

A few hours later, I read Chartrand’s quote in the Washington Post about how any problems at the department are in the distant past. “We have worked diligently to become more transparent, more communicative,” she said. And no, I didn’t laugh, because it wasn’t funny.”

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