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Former St. Petersburg chief fired after not attending slain cops' funerals

Dr. Goliath Davis says fired because he attended the cop-killer's funeral, but mayor attributes to "lack of confidence"

By PoliceOne Staff

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Former St. Petersburg police chief and prominent community figure Goliath Davis was fired from his position as senior administrator of community enrichment Friday after a controversy that involved the funerals of three cops recently killed in the line of duty.

Davis did not attend the funerals for Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz and Sgt. Thomas Baitinger, but did attend the funeral of Hydra Lacy, the man who killed them.

A third officer, David Crawford, was killed less than one month later, and Davis did not attend that funeral either.

"I paid my respects to those families and those officers at a wake,” Davis said at a press conference today explaining his firing.

“My reasons for not attending the funerals of those officers were, in my opinion, legitimate,” he said, citing the death of a close officer 30 years ago. He carried the casket for that friend and does not want to relive that experience.  

“It’s one thing to work with someone day to day and have to depend upon him or her for your life, then have to deal with that individual being interred,” he said. “For me, it was something that physically and mentally I did not want to go through.”

One reporter asked if he was contemplating litigation against the city, to which he said: “Litigation is always an option.”

Those in attendance applauded loudly.

Another reporter asked if he had thought about the message he was sending by not attending the funeral.

“There are other Florida police chiefs,” he said. “Has anybody reported on them? Secondly, if you stop and you think about it, I had reasons for not going … Nobody even talked about me not attending the funeral until it was reported that I was at where? At Lacy’s funeral. So the real issue is that I was at Lacy’s funeral.”

The mayor released a statement in regard to the chief’s firing, which can be read in full below.

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (March 4, 2011) - Citing a loss of confidence, Mayor Bill Foster relieved Dr. Goliath Davis of his duties as Senior Administrator of Community Enrichment on March 4, 2011.

As we advance this great City during extreme budgetary times, the Mayor will take this opportunity to re-organize departmental structures within the City, thereby consolidating Community Enrichment with other departments. Housing will become a part of Leisure and Community Services; Codes will go under City Development; and, the Business Assistance Center will become a division of Planning & Economic Development.

"This is the first of many organizational changes being discussed as we move to create greater efficiencies, while advancing the mission and goals of a city with limitless need and limited resources," said Foster.

"This management team will work together in unison, from a common script, toward a common goal of seamlessness and economic sustainability. We must not keep doing the same things as we did in the past and expect a different result, but must re-invent ourselves to attain a different and more positive result. Time is not on our side, and there is no time like the present to take bold and positive steps to assure our continued quality of life for all residents."

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