CU Citizens Help Ms. Davis Move Out Of Bullet- Riddled House

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On Saturday, August 18, 2007, Champaign-
Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice
pitched in to get Ms. Mildred Davis
moved out of her house at 4 Hedge
Court, nearly two months after a tragedy
struck her home. Champaign police were
in pursuit of Torriano Johnson on June
24, 2007, which began in Urbana and ended up in a standoff
at 4 Hedge Court in the Garden Hills neighborhood of
Champaign. Ms. Davis, a 62 year-old grandmother who
lives there, says police fired into her home, while people
outside told officers that she
and her children were inside.
Fortunately, no one was
physically injured in the
incident. But the approximately
30 bullet holes that
remained in her living room
were a daily reminder to Ms.
Davis of the horror she
experienced that night.
CU Citizens for Peace
and Justice, a local grassroots
organization, immediately
responded after they
heard the news. Martel
Miller, who is from Garden
Hills, talked to Ms. Davis to
make sure she had somewhere
else to stay and he also helped to get her some food.
Miller contacted the local media and was there with them
when Ms. Davis came back to her home Monday morning
to find it ransacked, she believes by the Champaign
police. She had given police a key to her home so that they
could conduct an investigation. She says the police went
through her personal items and damaged her property.
What they were looking for she does not know. She says
she never knew the suspect Torriano Johnson.
Ms. Davis was sitting in the chair of her front living
room when Torriano Johnson ran into her house. She
grabbed her two-year-old great-grandson just as police
started firing into the house. As she held the boy, a hail of
gunshots entered her front window and went through the
curtains, just a few feet from her. Two of her other grandchildren
were in the bedroom. People outside say that
they had told the police there was a woman and her children
inside, and not to fire into the house.
For several weeks, Ms. Davis had to live in the same
house, with bullet holes still in the front window and in
the drapes. Concerned about getting the damage to Ms.
Davis’ home fixed, we contacted her landlord who lives in
Chicago. He told us he could not locate a contractor while
out of town.
The Champaign police have claimed no responsibility,
saying it is up to the owner’s insurance to pay for the damage.
Yet recently, the city tried to pressure her into accepting
a settlement. Adding insult to
injury, they offered her a paltry
$200.[See sidebar] Champaign
officials must have
thought that because Ms.
Davis is a poor elderly
woman who lives in a black
neighborhood, she does not
deserve the same attention as
the wealthy white residents of
Ms. Davis says that the
Champaign police sent
Charles Nash, Pastor of the
New Hope Church of God in
Christ, along with Champaign
spokesperson Rene
Dunn, to talk with her. She
says Reverend Nash told her it would be “ugly” if she took
this to court. City officials then contacted her three days
later offering her a $200 check for her pain and suffering.
This was, of course, in exchange for her signature on a settlement
form. Ms. Davis rejected the deal.
Because she is on a fixed income, Ms. Davis was unable
to afford moving out of the house. CU Citizens for Peace
and Justice raised $750 from the community for a deposit
on a new rental. Carol Ammons found a house just a few
blocks away from 4 Hedge Court so Ms. Davis’ foster children
could remain in the same school district. Durl Kruse
lent his truck and we helped Ms. Davis and her family to
move to her new home. We hope Ms. Davis can now live
without the daily reminder of this harrowing event.

About Brian Dolinar

Brian Dolinar has been a community journalist since 2004.
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