STREET STARS: THE LARRY DAVIS STORY

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Larry Davis (May 28, 1966 – February 20, 2008), who changed his name to Adam Abdul-Hakeem in 1989, was a New Yorker who shot six New York City Police Department officers on November 19, 1986, when they raided his sister’s apartment in the Bronx. The police said that the raid was executed in order to question Davis about the killing of four suspected drug dealers.

At trial, Davis’s defense attorneys, including William Kunstler, claimed that the raid was staged to murder him because of his knowledge of the involvement of corrupt police in the drug business. With the help of family contacts and friends, he eluded capture for the next 17 days despite a massive manhunt. Once the search was narrowed to a single building, he took several hostages but surrendered to police when the presence of reporters convinced him he would not be harmed.

Davis was acquitted of attempted murder charges in the police shootout case and also acquitted of murder charges in the case involving the slain drug dealers. He was found guilty of weapons possession in the shootout case, acquitted in another murder case, and was found guilty in a later murder case, for which he was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. In 2008, Davis was stabbed to death in a fight with another inmate.

The Davis case generated controversy. Many were outraged by his actions and acquittal, but others regarded him as a folk hero for his ability to elude capture in the massive manhunt, or as the embodiment of a community’s frustration with the police, or as “a symbol of resistance” because “he fought back for African-Americans who are being killed by white police officers.”

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