Keith Davis Jr., who was set free earlier this year after standing trial four times for a murder he said he did not commit, has put the Baltimore Police Department and former Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby on notice that he intends to file a lawsuit against them.
In a three-page notice sent on April 25, Latoya Francis-Williams, Davis’ civil attorney, wrote that the claims stem from the “unprovoked brutal assault” of her client that left him with permanent injuries as well as his subsequent “malicious prosecution.” The Baltimore Banner reviewed a copy of the document.
Davis, 31, has always maintained his innocence in the deadly shooting of Kevin Jones, 22, a security guard at Pimlico Race Course, which happened before 5 a.m. on June 7, 2015.
The new state’s attorney, Ivan Bates, earlier this year dropped the charges of second-degree murder and use of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence against Davis, stating that decision was about the “prosecutorial missteps of my predecessor in her pursuit of a conviction at all costs.”
Francis-Williams said the claims include assault, battery, excessive force against officers Mark Veney, Lane Eskins, Alfredo Santiago, and Israel Lopez, as well as former officer Catherine Filippou.
The notice of claim says law enforcement knew that Filippou was the subject of an FBI public corruption investigation related to drug trafficking but allowed her to remain on the street at the time. Mosby and her prosecutors, she said, assisted in the malicious prosecution, fabricated evidence and defamed Davis.
Davis and his wife, Kelly, have suffered emotional trauma as well as a loss of reputation in the community, Francis-Williams said.
Any possible claims against Mosby would be unlikely to succeed, if not impossible. Police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray previously sued Mosby, and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that she enjoyed absolute immunity as a prosecutor and held that the Maryland Tort Claims Act barred claims because she was a state employee acting within the scope of her employment.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal in the case.
“The case law is pretty ironclad, that there’s absolute immunity. To pierce that would be very difficult,” said Michael Glass, an attorney involved in that lawsuit.
He said there could be room for a claim “if a prosecutor is acting completely outside the scope of their role as a prosecutor.”
When reached on the phone, Francis-Williams said she did not have a comment about the notice of claim but addressed the question about the legal standard.
“I’m confident that any claims we decide to pursue against Ms. Mosby would fall outside of the absolute immunity defense,” Francis-Williams said. “We’re well aware of the standard — if we chose to move forward for what was done to Mr. Davis and his family.”
Neither Mosby nor Baltimore Police could be reached for comment.
Police were investigating an attempted robbery of a hack driver and chased Davis into a garage in Northwest Baltimore. Officers fired dozens of shots and struck him three times in the face, arm and back.
From the start, Davis maintained that law enforcement planted a handgun near him. He was the first person police shot after the death of Gray, a 25-year-old Black man who suffered fatal injuries while in custody.
Davis was found not guilty at trial of all charges in 2016 except for one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
One week later, Davis was charged with first-degree murder and related offenses. A jury twice could not reach a unanimous verdict, and judges two other times overturned convictions.
Prosecutors charged Davis with attempted first-degree murder and related offenses 11 days after he was awarded a fifth trial in connection to an alleged fight at the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center.
Baltimore Circuit Judge John S. Nugent in 2022 ruled that the state appeared to have acted vindictively when it brought that case and ordered prosecutors to produce evidence to the contrary.
Nugent later found Mosby in civil contempt of court for violating a gag order. That’s because she responded to a comment on a video about the case on the Instagram account @murder_ink_bmore and wrote, “You really shouldn’t believe everything you read.”
The National Registry of Exonerations has since added Davis to its database.