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Texas officer in legal limbo
[North Richland Hills, TX]


December 15, 2000
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Texas officer in legal limbo
[North Richland Hills, TX]

John Kirsch; Star-Telegram Staff Writer
December 11, 2000, Monday FINAL EDITION
Copyright 2000 Star-Telegram Newspaper, Inc.
THE FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM
December 11, 2000, Monday FINAL EDITION

(NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas) -- Allen Hill's modest house on a dead-end street in Lake Worth isan apt metaphor for his life.

One year after Hill fatally shot Troy Davis, son of true-crime author Barbara Davis, during a police raid in North Richland Hills, he describes his chances of returning to law enforcement as "less than zero."

Hill resigned in May from the North Richland Hills Police Department. He said that the stigma of the shooting has made it difficult for him to get another police job.

In his first interview since the shooting, Hill said that North Richland Hills officials made him a scapegoat after the drug raid turned deadly. Police and city officials have declined to comment on the case.

Hill said he was justified in shooting Troy Davis as SWAT team members swarmed the Davis house, in the 8200 block of Ulster Drive, on the morning of Dec. 15, 1999. Davis, 25, pointed a gun at Hill, the lead officer, and Hill fired reflexively, he said.

"That day we had to take a life to save a life," Hill said, sitting recently with his wife, Linda, in their small living room where a Christmas tree stood in a corner.

"The life that was saved was our own. We were thrust into that situation. Definitely a tragedy for Troy Davis and his mother and his friends and his family to survive."

After a grand jury determined in March that there was insufficient evidence to indict Hill, he expected his life as a North Richland Hills police officer to return to normal.

Instead, Hill said, he was ostracized by police officials and made to feel that he had acted improperly. He was taken off the SWAT team and instructed to report to work in civilian clothes, he said.

"I was called a rogue officer and a psycho cop," Hill said. Hill said that a North Richland Hills police official told him, " 'You didn't give that boy enough time to put his gun down.' ""I didn't know how to respond to that," Hill said. "I thought maybe this is some type of cruel joke. How does one tell a police officer that kind of thing? How do you make that decision from the sidelines?"

Two months after the grand jury declined to indict Hill, he resigned. He did not give a reason at that time and declined recently to discuss the details of his departure. But Hill said that the ordeal continues.

He said that motorists have passed his house yelling " 'Did you know your daddy was a killer?' " at the couple's two children, Colton, 11, and Kaeli, 10. Private investigators using binoculars have watched the Hill house on several occasions, he said. Hill is a defendant in a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit filed by Davis' mother, who was home during the raid.

And the police departments he has applied to for work since May will not hire him because the North Richland Hills Police Department will not stand behind his actions during the raid, Hill said.

"I guess I would describe it as the stigma attached to this," he said. "It's pretty much a daily companion."

Tom Shockley, the North Richland Hills police chief, declined an interview request, saying Barbara Davis' lawsuit prevents him from discussing the issues arising from the 1999 raid.

North Richland Hills City Attorney Rex McEntire did not return several telephone calls seeking comment.

On the record

The living room of the Hills' house makes it clear that police work is still important to the former officer. His North Richland Hills fire investigator badge is framed and hanging on the wall next to a Texas-shaped plaque bearing the word SWAT.

Hill said he is unemployed and living off retirement funds he saved during 14 years working in law enforcement. His wife, Linda, is taking classes at Tarrant County College and is planning to become a lawyer.

At 6-feet-1 and 230 pounds, the 38-year-old Hill has a physical presence that would be useful in police work.

He received several commendations when he was employed by the Watauga Department of Public Safety. In 1986, the Tarrant County Sheriff's Department honored Hill for his work in an investigation into drugs being delivered to the jail, and he was commended for his work as a D.A.R.E. officer by Birdville school district officials and parents.

According to employment records from White Settlement, Hill was fired in 1984 from his job as a maintenance worker in the city water department after a fight with his supervisor.

However, a summary in city records states that the supervisor was later fired. Hill's allegation that the supervisor started the fight "has merit" and Hill was wrongly fired, the records state. Hill was disciplined by the North Richland Hills Police Department after he exposed himself during a group photograph taken during a November 1998 SWAT training exercise at Fort Hood. Hill said recently that the incident was a mistake on his part.

Barbara Davis' lawsuit alleges that police made another mistake during the raid of her house. The lawsuit contends that police planted a gun on her son after shooting him.

Hill adamantly denies the allegation. He said that authorities obtained a no-knock warrant to search Davis' house for illegal drugs, and the SWAT team was called in to secure the house because officials had reason to believe that Troy Davis had a gun collection.

"If I had failed, I don't think so much about what would have happened to me, but what about the man behind me that has a wife and kids? He's trusting me to do my job. If I had failed because I was afraid to do my job, I'd just as soon catch the round here," Hill said, pointing to his forehead, "than to fail because of indecisiveness.

"I can't find anything written anywhere that says you have an obligation to read a person's mind if they're pointing a gun at you."

Police said they found 16 guns in the Davis house, all of them legal, along with three marijuana plants and enough of the designer drug GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) to make 600 doses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has outlawed GHB, which has been called a date-rape drug.

Barbara Davis was named in two felony drug indictments as a result of the raid. Her case is expected to go to trial in February, said Mick Meyer, an assistant Tarrant County district attorney. A misdemeanor drug count against her was dismissed in March.

Raid plays out

A police officer videotaped the December 1999 drug raid. North Richland Hills officials have refused to release a copy of the videotape, contending that it is evidence in Barbara Davis' wrongful death lawsuit and in the drug indictments filed against her. But Hill said he and other SWAT team members received copies of the videotape after the Davis raid. He recently played it at his house.

The tape opens with black-uniformed SWAT team members planning the raid on the morning of Dec. 15, 1999, at the SWAT team headquarters about a mile from the police station. One of the officers can be heard saying, "There's lots of weapons in the [Davis] house."

Outside the SWAT building, officers don helmets and goggles and check their weapons. The next scene shows the officers walking single file to the front door of the Davis house.

The team breaks through the front door with a loud crash, and a man shouts, "Police." A moment later, two popping sounds can be heard. The tape ends without showing the interior of the house. Hill, the first officer through the door, said he saw Troy Davis at the end of a hallway to his left, about 12 feet away, pointing a handgun at him.

"He was using the wall for cover, pointing a gun directly at me as soon as the door was opened," Hill said. "It wasn't that he raised the gun after we made entry. As soon as I saw him, I saw the gun. He was in a shooting stance, which indicated to me he knew what he was doing."

Hill said he fired two shots at Davis, who dropped back behind the wall he had been hiding behind. Hill said that Davis did not fire.

As he entered the living room where Davis was, Hill said he saw Davis "with his head underneath the Christmas tree. He told me his name was Troy. I said, 'Are you hit?' and he started to gurgle. "Davis had been shot twice. Hill said he and other SWAT team members tried to stop Davis' bleeding and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Davis, who had his 25th birthday Dec. 1, 1999, died later at a hospital.

One shell casing was found in the hallway and the other in the living room, Hill said, casting doubt on his contention that he fired both shots while entering the front door. A forensics expert later determined that both shots had been fired from near the front door, Hill said.

After going home the day of the shooting, Hill said he jogged out to a favorite place at nearby Lake Worth and tried to make sense of what had occurred.

"People might think I'm crazy, but me and God and Troy Davis, we sat down and talked. I asked God, 'Did I [ mess] up?' ... I said, 'Look, I didn't hate him. I didn't like him. And I hope that he goes to heaven.' After that conversation, I believe ... that God told me, 'Allen, I'll deal with the afterlife.'

"After that, I felt like I did my mission."

John Kirsch, (817) 685-3805

jkirsch@star-telegram.com

 




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