Report: Deputy marshal hit police officer with squad car

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comNovember 2, 2013 

Alicia Davenport of the Muscogee County Marshal's Office.

MIKE HASKEY — mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com Buy Photo

A Muscogee County deputy marshal has apparently been disciplined over an incident Monday in which she struck a Columbus police officer with her squad car, according to police reports and city officials.

Deputy Marshal Alicia Davenport was the first officer to arrive at a wreck at the intersection of Forest Road and Wellborn Drive around 8:30 Monday morning, according to police reports.

Officer Doug Duncan of the CPD motor squad also responded and began to take statements and information from witnesses and drivers.

"Deputy Davenport went to leave the accident scene," a police department incident report reads. "Officer Duncan attempted to go to her vehicle to get the driver's information, and Deputy Davenport drove off and Officer Dunlap had to jump out of the way of her patrol vehicle. In doing so, Officer Dunlap stated that the right front bumper of the Marshal's Department vehicle bumped/brushed against his right leg two inches above the knee."

According to the report, Duncan did not seek immediate medical attention, but the report lists the nature of the injury as "blunt trauma to the right leg."

Marshal Greg Countryman also said he could not comment on a matter under investigation, but said Davenport is currently appealing a decision made by his department. He declined to say whether any disciplinary action has been taken against Davenport, other than to say, "Right now she's appealing our decision that we made.

"The only thing that I can say is that we're taking this very seriously and we're going to have to see how things play out," Countryman said. "But I am not going to tolerate certain actions from my deputies. I'm going to hold them to a higher standard."

Countryman said he has asked for an independent outside agency to investigate the incident.

"I don't want people to think we're investigating ourselves," Countryman said, but he declined to name the outside agency.

Countryman confirmed that among the evidence in the investigation is video footage from Davenport's dashboard camera. He declined to release the video until the investigation is concluded.

Police Chief Ricky Boren said he was aware of the incident, but he declined to comment on the matter, saying the incident was under investigation by the Marshal's Office.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, the city's public safety director, also said she was aware of it and declined to comment on a matter that is under investigation.

City Human Resources Director Reather Hollowell referred a request for copies of any recent disciplinary action against Davenport to the city attorney's office.

Marcia Smith, a paralegal with the city attorney's office, responded with an email that denied the request, but in effect confirmed that there had been disciplinary action taken.

"Ms. Hollowell forwarded me your request for information concerning recent disciplinary actions taken against Muscogee County Deputy Marshal Alicia Davenport. Please be advised that the disciplinary action has not been concluded or terminated. Accordingly (state law) prevents us from releasing these records at this time."

Countryman said he would expect any appeal filed by Davenport to be heard by the city's Personnel Review Board, which usually meets on the third Wednesday of every month, if necessary.

Duncan declined to make a statement on the incident and repeated attempts to contact Davenport were unsuccessful.

Davenport's career

Davenport is a former Columbus police officer. In 2006, she filed a federal race and gender discrimination lawsuit against the police department, claiming she was subjected to discrimination and retribution at the hands of several fellow officers.

A jury sided with Davenport on the gender discrimination claim and awarded her $5,000. The jury ruled there was not sufficient evidence to support the racial discrimination claim.

In 2008, Davenport, now with the Marshal's Office, was also one of three public safety officers who fired on the man responsible for three deaths at Doctors Hospital.

Charles Johnston, distraught over his mother's death, shot and killed three people in the hospital, one of them a nurse who had helped treat his mother.

Fleeing the scene, Johnston was first confronted by Davenport, then two other officers, all of whom exchanged gunfire with him.

A plainclothes detective wounded Johnston in the shoulder, and he was subsequently arrested and charged with murder.

Johnston pleaded guilty to three counts of murder in 2009 and was sentenced to three consecutive life terms after District Attorney Julia Slater declined to seek the death penalty.

Davenport was one of five officers who were given awards for valor following the shooting. She was also subsequently nominated for a "Top Officer" award on the television show "America's Most Wanted."

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