May 13, 2004
Department Investigates Whether Officer Was Hit By a Drunken Driver
Officer Down: Gary Cooper Davis - [Bloomfield Township, Michigan]
By KORIE WILKINS, The Daily Oakland Press
Bloomfield Township, Michigan -- Police want to know if the accident that killed an officer who was making a drunken driving arrest was caused by another drunken driver.
Officer Gary Davis, a 12-year veteran of the Bloomfield Township Police Department, had pulled over a suspected drunken driver at about 3 a.m. Thursday morning on Interstate 75 between Coolidge and Crooks roads in Troy, just outside of Bloomfield Township.
After making the arrest and placing the suspect in his patrol car, 36-year-old Davis - whose vehicle had been on the right shoulder of southbound I-75 - had crossed several lanes of traffic to enter a turnabout in the freeway's median to head north when a southbound vehicle struck the driver's side of Davis' car.
Witnesses say the southbound car, a Ford Focus, was traveling at a high rate of speed - possibly near 100 miles per hour. Davis was pronounced dead at William Beaumont Hospital. Funeral arrangements are pending.
"We are all in a state of shock," said Bloomfield Township Police Chief Jeffrey Werner. "Obviously, this takes a toll on all officers."
There were two Bloomfield Township officers assisting Davis at the scene, and both witnessed the crash.
Lt. Gerry Scherlinck of the Troy Police Department, which is conducting the investigation, said his department is awaiting results of blood tests to determine whether the driver of the Focus was intoxicated.
Scherlinck said he believes that the patrol car's overhead lights were activated.
Davis -- The driver of the Focus, a 21-year-old man, and the suspected drunken driver, a 26-year-old man, were in critical condition Thursday afternoon. Their names were not released.
"I think both men are expected to make it," Scherlinck said.
In Bloomfield Township, members of the police and fire departments, as well as other employees, were in mourning. According to Supervisor David Payne, Davis was the first Bloomfield Township employee to be killed while on duty.
"It has really had an impact here," Payne said. "We're a small community. It's like a member of the family has died.
"We're all devastated."
Davis, a decorated member of the department, started as a patrolman and then did a stint as a school liaison officer. He asked to return to patrol, because he felt that was his strength, Werner said.
"That was what he liked most," he said. "And he was very good at it. He was a great officer and many other officers looked up to him. When he was out there, you knew he was always doing his best.
"He will be missed."
Grief counselors and a chaplain were on hand to help township employees and police officers. Flags were being flown at half-staff and officers placed black bands over their badges in Davis' memory. There also was a small service at 9 a.m. Thursday in the township hall for Davis.
"This is an unbelievable tragedy," Payne said.
The tragedy is being echoed elsewhere in the county. Davis was married to 36-year-old Nicole Davis, a 13-year veteran of the Waterford Township Police Department.
The couple had no children. Also, Davis' brother-in-law is an Oakland County Sheriff's Office deputy.
Davis is the fourth police officer in Michigan to die this year while on duty.