Len Davis was a former New Orleans police officer who was sentenced to death for arranging the murder of a witness set to testify against him. According to court documents Len Davis was under investigation by the Internal Affairs for the murder of a young man who he thought was a witness to an officer involved shooting. When Len Davis learned that someone had witnessed the murder he conspired with another man to murder the witness, Kim Groves. Len Dias was convicted on both murders and sentenced to death. The death sentence became Federal due to being found guilty of two Federal Civil Rights charges.
Len Davis 2021 Information
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A federal appeals court on Friday turned down a request for a new hearing from a former New Orleans police officer facing execution after orchestrating the 1994 murder of a woman who filed a brutality case against him.
In theory, Len Davis finds himself one step closer to receiving the federal death penalty which was handed to him following his conviction in the killing of Kim Groves. But he can appeal Friday’s decision from a three-judge panel to the full federal 5th Circuit and then to the U.S. Supreme Court, meaning it could be years before his case concludes.
U.S. Circuit Judges Priscilla Owen, Don Willett and Andrew Oldham rejected arguments that the question of Davis’ guilt deserved to be revisited because the government withheld key exculpatory evidence, jurors were biased, and he did not have competent legal representation at his trial.
An attorney for Davis, Sarah Ottinger, said Saturday that she and her client are exploring their legal options going forward.
Groves’ slaying marked the nadir for the reputation of the New Orleans Police Department, which that year stood watch over a city that registered its all-time in high in killings: 424.
Federal agents at the time were investigating Davis because they suspected he and other officers had been paid to protect drug dealers. Amid that probe, Groves went to NOPD’s internal affairs division and reported having seen Davis pistol-whip a teenager.
Within a day, Davis had been tipped off about the complaint and arranged for drug dealer Paul Hardy to execute Groves roughly a block away from her home in the Lower 9th Ward. The plot to murder Groves was captured on FBI phone taps meant to expose the protection racket to which Davis had been linked, but agents were unable to prevent Hardy from killing the mother of three.
Davis and Hardy each received death sentences after they were convicted in 1996 of violating Groves’ civil rights. A third man linked to the killing, Damon Causey, received a life sentence after being convicted of hiding the handgun used to murder Groves.
Hardy’s capital punishment was vacated after U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan deemed him intellectually disabled. Davis’ initial death sentence had also been vacated at one point. But he received a second death sentence in 2005.
Davis, now 56, has since exhausted his appeals and is now undergoing the complex post-conviction appellate process.
The latest twist in Davis’ case comes a little more than a month after the federal Bureau of Prisons executed three federal prisoners. The carrying out of those death sentences followed a decision from President Donald Trump’s administration to end a 17-year hiatus of federal executions.
Ottinger said she was concerned that prosecutors’ insistence on carrying out the death penalty on Davis meant her client, who is Black, stood to become “the only person ever killed by the government under Reconstruction era civil rights statutes enacted to protect Black people from brutality perpetrated by White police.”
Ottinger added, “It is in the case involving the Black police officer that the government persists in seeking the ultimate punishment of death.”
The city of New Orleans in 2018 agreed to pay Groves’ children $1.5 million to settle a civil lawsuit her family filed following the killing. Groves’ family at one point had asked President George W. Bush’s administration to halt its efforts to execute Davis so that the criminal case wouldn’t drag out any longer.