New probe of shooting is urged Crowd at rally seeks ouster of officer who killed man in 1996

'We can't rest'

Documents say victim might have been aiding target of attack

November 17, 1998|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

A crowd of about 60 community leaders and residents called on the Annapolis Police Department last night to begin a new investigation into the 1996 death of Cochise O. Daughtry and demanded the dismissal of the police officer who shot the 18-year-old man.

The Labor Day shooting in the Robinwood public housing complex polarized the city's black and white communities.

Officer David W. Garcia said he saw two men brutally beating a third man and shot both alleged attackers. Daughtry died, and Vernon E. Estep Jr., 19, was seriously wounded.

Documents recently obtained by The Sun, including a statement from beating victim Carlester Jackson, indicate that Daughtry might have been trying to help Jackson when he was shot.

Those documents sparked demands last night at Asbury United Methodist Church to reopen the case despite a police investigation and county grand jury clearing Garcia of any wrongdoing last year.

"It's a sad day to be back up here," said Robert H. Eades, spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Unity Coalition, who organized last night's rally and also organized a protest march after the shooting that drew hundreds of participants.

"We are here asking for justice. What happened on Sept. 2 was not portrayed to the community right," Eades said, criticizing the Police Department.

"We can't rest until we receive the true story of what happened to Cochise Daughtry. [Garcia] is a bad apple. We need to weed out the bad apples."

Eades' statements were met by choruses of "Amens" and nods of assent by people at the rally.

Also attending the rally were civil rights activist Carl O. Snowden, the Rev. Willie Mason of Second Baptist Church and Curtis Spencer and Theodore Brown, founders of the Friends of Black Annapolitans political group.

Alderman Cynthia A. Carter, a Ward 6 Democrat, applauded the people at the rally and said, "I don't think [the Police Department] had a thorough enough investigation. They need to justify what has taken place."

According to police accounts, the incident began when Garcia responded to a report of gunfire in the 1300 block of Tyler Ave. at 12: 30 a.m.

He saw two men beating another man. When one man, identified as Estep, broke a bottle over the victim's head, Garcia said in a statement, he shouted a warning. He said he fired at Estep when the beating continued.

Daughtry was shot when he turned toward Garcia and was "reaching to the rear of his trousers," the officer stated. He said he thought Daughtry was "going for a weapon."

Police said the incident was precipitated by a drug deal that went bad, and Garcia stated that he recovered three rocks of suspected crack cocaine from a napkin Estep threw away.

In a statement to detectives hours after the shooting, Jackson, the beating victim, described Daughtry as "one of the better younger persons in that neighborhood" and said that he was trying to stop the fight.

The newly obtained documents also include a letter from a Washington forensic anthropologist who wrote that Daughtry might have been shot from behind. Garcia said both Daughtry and Estep were facing him.

Those discrepancies were noted by James Moone, president of Maryland's Southern Christian Leadership Conference and keynote speaker at last night's rally. "We know something is wrong," Moone said. "We didn't come to label anybody. We didn't come to label the police. We came down looking for justice."

Pub Date: 11/17/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.