Friends dispute police report


Witnesses to a confrontation between a man and Las Vegas police that turned deadly Sunday questioned whether an officer needed to fatally shoot 24-year-old Anthony Antwan Davis, saying he was not combative.

Davis was shot and killed after police said he fired a handgun and tried to grab an officer's gun during a scuffle.

Davis, of Lancaster, Calif., was outside a Spring Pointe apartment unit with two other people, one of whom said the police account is wrong.

"There was no way he could have reached the gun," Sylvester Tatum, who indicated he was a witness, said Wednesday. "His hands were underneath his stomach, and he was saying they dislocated his arm."

Witness Roxanne Lewis said earlier that Davis' arms were bound during the scuffle.

Police Sgt. David Valenta, 36, and Detective Darren Schwartz, 31, were investigating gang activity near Pecos Road and Las Vegas Boulevard just before midnight Sunday, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

Police said Davis kept walking while moving his hand toward his waistband and pulling out a handgun.

The officers brought the man to the ground and struggled with him to force him to release the gun, police said. They tried to take the gun from him, and Davis fired once, police said. Valenta fired his weapon, killing Davis, police said.

Davis died from a gunshot wound to the head, the Clark County coroner's office said.

Tatum, 15, who was on his scooter nearby during the incident, said his friend wasn't combative and police tackled him when he was steps away from a family member's front door. He said he and another witness then ran because "I thought (the police) were going to shoot me."

"I feel bad. They didn't have to hit him in the head. They could have shot him in the arm or his leg," Tatum said.

Deborah Weatherby, who has lived in Las Vegas since 1976, called her cousin "very family oriented" and said he was moving to town with his fiancee and their two young children in about two weeks.

She said Davis did have an unregistered handgun on him but turned to go inside when police entered the apartment complex.

"The gang unit is always out there harassing people," she said. "They are turning their own self into a gang."

Police would not comment on the claims Wednesday but said the investigation was ongoing.

Valenta has been a Las Vegas police officer for 12 years, and Schwartz has been with the department for eight years. Both are on paid leave while the department conducts an investigation, a routine step in such incidents.

A coroner's inquest will be held later to determine whether the shooting was justified.

Another cousin, Ronnie Cross, questioned how events had escalated so fast.

"Certain things don't add up," she said.

Weatherby said Davis' uncle, James R. Lewis, was killed in an officer-involved shooting with Las Vegas police in October. A jury unanimously ruled the shooting was justified.

Contact reporter Maggie Lillis at mlillis@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279.

 

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