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Deputy mayor responds to critic

The Gulfport police chief has said Goliath Davis "insulted" local law enforcement in remarks about the fatal shooting of a suspect.

By GRAHAM BRINK, Times Staff Writer
Published May 26, 2005

ST. PETERSBURG - Deputy Mayor Goliath Davis took a conciliatory tone Wednesday in responding to criticism over his comments about a controversial shooting by a Pinellas sheriff's deputy.

Two days ago, Gulfport police Chief G. Curt Willocks criticized Davis for questioning how the Sheriff's Office handled the April 12 shooting. He said Davis "insulted" local law enforcement.

In a two-page letter Wednesday, Davis asked Willocks to reread a St. Petersburg Times report in which Davis' comments appeared. "I regret you may have misunderstood my point of view," wrote Davis, a a former St. Petersburg police chief. Davis said he does not condone crime, drug dealing or violence.

In a Times report on Sunday, Davis criticized law enforcement for responding slowly to concern over the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Jarrell Walker.

Deputy Christopher Taylor shot Walker twice in the back during a drug raid. Walker was lying on the floor and refused to show his hands while reaching into his waistband and under a couch, according to a report by the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office.

Walker did not have a weapon, though the Sheriff's Office said a loaded handgun was found nearby.

In the Times report, Davis criticized the Sheriff's Office for hesitating to admit an error in shooting Walker.

In response, Willocks defended the actions of the Sheriff's Office.

"You (Davis) . . . have insulted not only members of the Sheriff's Office, but officers throughout Pinellas County with your arrogance and inappropriate statements," Willocks wrote.

Davis emphasized in his letter to Willocks the importance of "continuously improving our policies, practices, tactics and procedures."

"Justified or not, the shooting of a suspect lying in a prone position, twice in the back, by an officer wearing a bullet proof vest and holding a ballistic shield, raises questions worthy of discussion," Davis wrote.

Davis did not want to comment about his letter.

Willocks said he and Davis are going to meet to discuss the issues.

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