By Russ McQuaid
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 10, 2014)– As hundreds of Marion County policemen and women packed Crown Hill Funeral Home to pay their respects to slain IMPD Officer Perry Renn, details and rumors about the shootout that claimed his life were being shared.
The probable cause affidavit filed against accused killer Major Davis II, and an investigation by FOX59 News, paints a picture of two cops, a drunken angry gunman, an alley and backyard packed with women and children and friends and split-second decisions that ended in gunfire and death.
“Major Davis had an argument with another person prior to the police arriving,” reads the PC, quoting Michael Hatcher who told FOX59 News he was a longtime friend of the alleged triggerman.
Sarah Henline was a civilian riding alongside Officer Nicholas Gallico at 9:23 p.m. Saturday when a report came out of shots fired in the vicinity of 34th Street and Forest Manor Avenue on the northeast side where a holiday weekend cookout was in progress.
“Henline said it appeared that the black male…was waving his hands around and/or trying to flag down Officer Gallico,” reads the PC. “Officer Gallico repeatedly asked Davis to show his hands. Davis replied…’I don’t need to talk to anybody.'”
At that point Perry Renn, a veteran cop who spent more than two decades answering the call in some of Indianapolis’ roughest neighborhoods, rolled up and joined Gallico and Davis in the alley.
Latasha Ruffin was also there.
Ruffin is the mother of Davis’ toddler child. She also placed herself between Davis and the officers, pleading with her boyfriend to drop his gun yet warning police that her boyfriend was drunk.
Because Ruffin was in the way, Gallico and Renn could not get a clear view of, or shot at, the man armed with an AK-47 who had already fired off several rounds before police arrived.
“There was ample opportunity for him to drop the weapon turn and run, refuse to engage the officer,” said IMPD Chief Rick Hite, “but he chose to engage the officer and he returned fire.”
A gun battle ensued. Police fired at least 14 rounds, Davis at least four. Three of the bullets from the semi-automatic rifle struck Officer Renn. One entered his heart and lung. Another penetrated his vest. The patrolman would be declared dead a half-hour after the shooting stopped.
“He erred on the side of caution to save a life to save her life and prevent the life of his partner from being taken,” said Hite. Ruffin suffered a minor powder burn to her arm as she moved away from Davis when the firing began.
“If she does have a powder burn,” said Hite, “that speaks volumes about how close it was but it also speaks volumes about how our officers, again, used restraint and caring not to injure her in an attempt to deal with the assailant.”
Davis is listed in stable condition with head and abdomen wounds. Prosecutors expect him to stand trial on a murder charge with a firearms enhancement charge.
If convicted, Davis would face up to 85 years in prison. The accused assailant is the first suspect in Marion County to be charged with murder under the state’s new criminal code revisions which took effect July 1 and, if convicted, would require Davis to serve 75 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
In an irony of the streets, Hite said it’s quite likely that Renn and Davis knew each other as the patrolman was a veteran of the neighborhoods where the 25-year-old father of four was raised and where his own father died during a struggle with police in 2003.
“Can you imagine how many times he watched him grow up?” Hite asked. “Here was a guy who knew the incident with his dad. He was the type of guy who would engage him in real conversation about, ‘How are you doing son? How’s school? How are you making out?’ He’s that kind of guy.”
Lisa Fox exited the Crown Hill Funeral Home after paying her respects to Renn and standing in line with police officers to view his body.
Fox recalled that a month ago, at a north side intersection as she panhandled for rent money, an IMPD patrol car stopped.
“An officer pulled up and I said, ‘I know you’re going to chase me off,’ and he said, ‘No, I understand,’ and he gave me five dollars and he just told me to take care and be careful.”
Fox said she never knew the officer’s name until she saw coverage of his killing the morning after he entered the alley and held his fire to protect a young mother’s life.
“It doesn’t surprise me that he did that because I seen by giving me that money he showed me what kind of person he was and I could see him going out and doing that and I didn’t even know him.
“I only talked to him for a minute and all I can say is he was really a nice guy, really caring guy for the minute I got to talk to him.”
A portrait of Major Davis II also emerged among the mourners at Renn’s calling.
A retired veteran narcotics detective told FOX59 News that he encountered Davis in late June at the Beechwood Garden public housing complex.
When the ex-officer, now working security, asked Davis for identification since he was not a resident of the complex, and the young man resisted, the officer told him, “Son, the attitude you display toward law enforcement is going to get you killed some day.”
It was that attitude that led Davis to flag down an officer and refused to surrender his weapon and allegedly open fire when a more prudent man might have tossed the gun into the weeds of a nearby abandoned house and explained away the gunfire as nothing more than holiday fireworks.
Cynthia Davis told FOX59 News that her son had been depressed lately and drinking more.
When asked if she ever knew her son to carry a weapon, Davis answered, “No.”
The Davis probable cause indicates that, in fact, the alleged gunman got the alleged murder weapon from his mother. She bought it at Don’s Guns in the 3800 block of Lafayette Road in late 2010. Owner Don Davis told FOX59 News he turned over the sales receipt to federal agents. Davis said the woman likely paid no more than $700 for the gun.