Federal Judge: Deyanna Davis can be released from jail

Federal judge hears case of woman accused of plowing SUV through police officers can be home as she awaits possible trial

Mike Baggerman
July 07, 2020 - 3:00 am
Deyanna Davis


The attorney representing Deyanna Davis was optimistic that she will be released from jail as early as Tuesday as she awaits a grand jury decision after her incident on June 1 in Buffalo.

Davis, 31, allegedly sped an SUV through a blockade of police officers who were on Bailey Avenue during a night of rioting. She seriously injured New York State Trooper Ronald Ensminger during the incident and also struck other officers who had minor injuries.

She was initially charged with several different levels of assault. Prosecutors, citing witnesses, also allege that she tried to murder the officers and levied that charge against her on June 24.

Davis’s family, activists, and her attorney, all insist that what happened on June 1 was an accident.

“This could have happened to any one of us,” defense attorney Sam Davis said. “This isn’t someone who was out being an agitator. This isn’t someone that’s a part of Antifa or any other organization. This is somebody who ran to the store real quick and got caught in traffic and some nut started shooting. Then she wound up caught with tear gas in her windows.”

That night, she drove the SUV while Semaj Pigram and Walter Stewart were passengers. Federal court documents indicated Davis stopped the car on Bailey Avenue before she hit the officers. At that time, it’s believed that Pigram opened the door and fired several shots into the air. After she hit the police line, the SUV turned onto Connelly Street and stopped halfway down the block.

Pigram ran away after Davis stopped the car and was later arrested along with Stewart and Davis. All three were charged with a gun crime after police found a stolen 9mm handgun in the car.

DNA testing showed that neither Davis nor Stewart touched the gun, though prosecutors argued that Davis possessed the gun because she drove the car.

There is the belief that Davis panicked when the shots were fired or was afraid of Pigram, which is why she accelerated into the police line instead of turning around.

“You’ve got to understand that there was tear gas discharged and flash bangs being discharged before my client ever hit that gas pedal,” he said. “It’s easy to sit at home and say what you would have done…We’ve got projectiles coming toward the vehicles and we’ve got large fire from behind my client and in front of my client. She hasn’t been trained in firearms.”

Davis was shot twice that night.

Davis also said visibility was a factor that night due to the cloud of smoke between officers and her SUV.

Even if a judge on Tuesday rules Davis can go home, she still has to post either $200,000 bail or bond at the state level. Her family is in a position to post bond. However, Davis may not return home until after Tuesday because authorities will need to go through her home to ensure it is appropriate.

Her attorney said people need to know Davis is a wife, mother of four, and made strides in her business as a cosmetologist before the June 1 incident.

“She’s a citizen,” he said. “She just went to the store. She was coming from a repass supporting her husband. This is not someone who was out in the street when she wasn’t supposed to be. The curfew was not in effect.”

During her bail interview, Davis said she has been unemployed since she was 17 years old and denied any history of illicit substances. A blood test showed that she had substances in her system that night, though police did not say what those substances were.

Judge Jeremiah McCarthy said he was “troubled” by some of the facts surrounding Davis, including her criminal history which includes attempted robbery in 2009 and attempted witness tampering in 2013. However, he said federal prosecutors have not provided clear evidence that she will be a danger if she is released from jail.

Judge Lawrence Villardo will decide Tuesday morning whether or not Davis can be released to home confinement.

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