April 12, 2012
Most of today has been given over to dealing with a 911 tape and an incident that happened April 4 at the home of state Senate candidate Tommy Davis.
That evening, police were summoned to Davis' Aberdeen home. The report from the Moore County Sheriff's Office said Davis had threatened to commit suicide. Deputies were told Davis had weapons in his home and might have been armed when he wandered outside into some woods.
Deputies secured some guns in the house and, when Davis emerged from the woods a short time later, took him to the ground when he did not comply with orders to show his hands. Ultimately, Davis was taken to First Health Moore Regional hospital and kept for about three days before getting released and sent home.
This was the initial report we got in the newsroom earlier this week. There was little question about the news value of this incident. Since Davis was a candidate running for office -- Senate District 29 -- and appearing on next month's ballot, we were obligated to report the incident. Once of the fundamental tenets of democracy is that voters have sufficient information to determine a candidate's fitness for public office.
In addition to using the police report, staff writer Tom Embrey also contacted Tommy Davis and his wife Ruby to get their side of the story. Initially, Davis attributed the incident to "an emotional breakdown." Then, he and his wife chalked up his behavior to problems regulating his blood sugar levels. They assured us this was a misunderstanding and that Ruby Davis had called to get her husband medical attention, not the police.
We were suspicious, but Davis didn't stop there. Online, he went on to say:
"In Mr. Embry's account is on target since I made a trip to The Pilot and sat down to explain what was reported in a Sheriff's Department summary as well as their statements was misleading. Also what was omitted was the use of God's name in vain by Sargent Key. Training should be in his future as well as other "professional officers" who completely missed the course on dealing with medical emergencies. 6-8 officers with shoulder fired rifles and banana clips to take down a 63 year old man sitting in a chair by his swimming pool is a first in "professionalism". Empty hands held high and nothing in my pockets, but a hip injury and bruise, and a bloody elbow from being attacked by a 250 pound Sargent Key running at full speed. It is true that Sheriff Lane Carter has publicly endorsed Senator Jerry Tillman. John Marcum, Jerry Tillman and I spoke to the Randolph County TEA Party on Monday night. Senator Tillman was prideful when announcing that he had the endorsement of Sheriff Carter. I cringe to think that Sheriff Carter would allow his "professional" officers to behave in such an unprofessional manner. I will admit, having been in law enforcement for over 10 years, I have never seen or experienced such absentmindedness from a law enforcement officer."
Lack of professionalism? A political dirty trick? That really only left us one option, and that was to force the issue and get the 911 tape and find out what Ruby REALLY told officials and what they were dealing with that night. The tape, which goes on for 44 minutes, supports the original report and officers actions, based on what they were told. It is worth noting here that the Sheriff's Office was hesitant in releasing this tape, even though it is required by law. We asked for the recording Tuesday. Only after I called Sheriff Lane Carter this morning -- and after some questioned the actions of his deputies online -- did Carter have the tape emailed to us.
We do not relish having to highlight these personal and traumatic incidents for families. We understand and regret the embarrassment this has caused for some, and we despise that some have used this to poke fun at a serious issue. We truly wish the best for the Davis family. But at the same time, it is our responsibility to seek the truth and provide that to the community.