The Sacramento Bee
Police have released dramatic body camera footage, 911 audio and new details from a December officer-involved shooting in which three officers opened fire, killing a knife-wielding man minutes after officers spotted a fatally injured woman on the floor inside a Davis home.
The Davis Police Department and the Yolo County coroner have identified the man as Christopher Gray, 29, and the woman as his mother, Carol Gray, 62. Both died at the scene, a home in the 400 block of Avocet Avenue, in the early hours of Dec. 19.
Christopher Gray was fatally shot by one or more officers shortly before 4 a.m. and Carol Gray was located inside her residence with fatal injuries. While Carol Gray’s exact cause of death has not been released, it is being investigated as homicide, the department said Thursday in a news release.
What happened on Dec. 19
Officers reported seeing Carol Gray “under a sheet” inside the residence, where they had arrived following a 911 call for a domestic disturbance. The call to dispatchers ended with sounds indicating that the altercation had turned physical, according to the news release.
In the released 911 dispatch audio, Carol Gray begins to report to police that she had been threatened by her son, but that he had not used weapons to threaten her at that time. The call is interrupted by a male voice; the two argue for a moment, and the mother is then heard screaming in pain.
Five Davis Police officers arrived to the Grays’ home minutes later, shortly before 4 a.m., and attempted for about two minutes to convince a man inside to drop one or more knives he can be seen holding in the bodycam videos.
The videos released by the department come from two of the five officers, showing one angle from the front entrance and another from the front window of the home, a few feet to the left of the door.
“Contact at the door, see if we can get him out,” one officer says as they walk up the driveway. “If we can’t get him out, then get her out and get information.”
The officers address the subject repeatedly as “Christopher,” as some of them briefly enter the home before retreating back out, video shows.
An officer reports seeing a body inside the house on the floor, the videos show. “Mom’s on the ground, covered in a sheet,” she says at one point.
“She’s breathing,” another officer says. “He’s walking around the kitchen right now.”
“I see him,” a third officer responds. “Knock on the door. Get him out.”
The officers at the door talk to each other about having both lethal and less-lethal force options ready, video shows.
An officer knocks on the door and identifies herself as police. She quickly yells, “Knife!” as she sees the man holding one or more knives.
“Come in the house and f—ing shoot me,” a male voice from inside the house can be heard saying.
Video shows one officer enter the residence again and use a Taser to shock the man, who falls to the ground momentarily. He then recovers to his feet and runs through a hallway into another room, video shows. “Not down, not down!” an officer shouts. A startled dog then runs out the front door past the officers, unharmed.
About 45 seconds after being shocked, Gray returns to the front door and lunges toward the officer closest to the threshold with a knife or knives in his hand.
Video shows officers shoot at him multiple times.
At least eight shots can be heard, including two after the man has fallen to the ground. He continues to clutch the knife after the shots stop, the videos show. An officer eventually removes the weapon from his hands and the man is restrained in handcuffs while still on his back. Within a few minutes, the officers begin administering medical aid.
As he is cuffed, two other officers locate the mortally wounded woman and attempt life-saving measures.
The video is redacted via blurring, obscuring Christopher Gray’s face as well as most of the woman’s face and body. A large amount of blood can be seen on the tile floor beside her, near the bottom of the home’s staircase, as the officers apply pressure to wounds that appear to be near the side of her torso or midsection.
The video from the front entrance of the home ends as a police officer gives chest compressions to the man, as lights from an ambulance appear.
911 call ends in apparent attack
Police also released audio from the two-and-a-half minute 911 call Carol Gray made that prompted the officers’ response to the home. The audio suggests she was violently attacked midway through the call.
“My son just made threats to me,” Carol Gray tells the 911 dispatcher. “He said, ‘You’re about to (unintelligible), you whore.’ ”
She then tells dispatch that her son did not threaten her with any weapons.
“No, no weapons, but he told me not to talk to him again.”
Carol Gray’s voice trails off, and the dispatcher asks her where her son is in the house. Gray tells her he is in his bedroom, but moments later she can be heard talking to a male voice.
“You just told me that I had to go to bed or not to talk to you,” she says.
“I ain’t done nothing to hurt you yet,” the background voice says.
“Oh, yet?” she responds.
The male voice asks her if she is talking to the police.
She begins to respond, “I’m not going to…” before she is suddenly cut off, and begins screaming in pain and shouting for help. The call then ends.
The Police Department says there is additional audio and video from the Dec. 19 incident, and that the remainder would be released with 45 days of that date.
Long history of violence at Grays’ home
In response to a public records request, the Davis Police Department released a redacted log of the premise history of calls to service for the residence on Avocet Avenue, dating back to February 2009.
Including 911 calls, 911 hangups, welfare checks and other incidents of an unclear nature due to redaction, there were 55 instances of contact between law enforcement and the residence prior to the final call on Dec. 19, which in the log is labeled as “187,” police code for murder.
All names are blacked out, but the history shows numerous disturbance calls over the course of more than a decade, some involving physical fights and many involving the reporting party’s “adult son” or sons. Public records available online show Carol Gray lived at the residence from 2005 to 2019.
Three alarming requests for welfare checks, one involving “smeared” blood, occurred in the five days leading up to the fatal Dec. 19 incident.
On Dec. 14, police were advised that a man was yelling profanities and hitting fences as he walked away from the Avocet Avenue residence. Two days later, the log says, a woman reported her “adult son yelling in the (residence), slamming doors, threatening that he his going to kill someone … no weapons.”
Two days after that, on Dec. 18: “(reporting party) has had on-going issues w/son (redacted) … (reporting party) arrived home to find blood smeared on front door.”
Concerning calls involving mother-son disputes at the residence, though, appeared to begin more than a decade earlier.
First, on April 2, 2009: “(Reporting party)‘s son (redacted) then line disconnected.” Later, that September: “stated son (redacted) then hung up.”
In August 2012: “Family in physical altercation … brother just hit (reporting party) in head w/hand.”
In late December 2013: “(reporting party)‘s 2 sons in fistfight.”
From June 6, 2014: “911 (hangup) with nothing heard – on call back female answered and was very winded – adv’d (advised) she was just in a verbal/physical 415 (fight) with her adult sons but that they had left … (reporting party) was not very cooperative.”
More than four months after that, in October 2014: “adult son has left the res and not returned home … Son may be distraught over recent family death, and because of that, has (redacted).”
A Dec. 13, 2014, domestic disturbance call is simply marked “Mother vs. son.”
In March 2016, police responded to a battery call at the home. “Son (redacted) sitting on (reporting party) and tried to suffocate her, holding her by her throat.”
Two months later, in May 2016: “fearful son will become violent.”
On July 8, 2016: reporting party told dispatch “brother is having (redacted) – became upset w/mother and threw her in the pool. Brother has left the (residence), but was kicking the front door at one point.”
Three days later, a resident of the home filed a missing person report for their son.
Almost exactly a year later, in July 2017: “(Reporting party) was in verbal argument. Son and (reporting party) physically fought over keys to vehicle, son has since left in (reporting party)‘s car.”
In September 2017 and March 2018, Davis police received two more domestic disturbance calls, the first described as “mother vs her two adult sons” and the second as “adult son in verbal argument with mother … there were threats of physical but nothing (occurred).”
Eight days after this verbal dispute, police responded for a welfare check on Avocet Avenue following reports of a man in his 20s “talking to himself” who also had “a bat or stick in his hand swinging it around.”
The next seven calls, between December 2018 and June 2019, are entirely redacted except for the date, time and location.
Five of the incidents resulted in police reports being filed, the logs show.
Involved officers are back on duty
The Davis Police Department says five officers were involved in the incident, and in Thursday’s news release identified the three who discharged their firearms in response to a public records request.
Those three are Corp. Alex Torres, listed as having 7½ years of experience; Officer Ben Adams, with 15½ years of experience; and Officer Francisco Talavera, with 14½ years of experience. It was not clear whether the years of experience referred to tenure with the Davis Police Department or overall time in law enforcement.
“The officers involved in the shooting were placed on paid administrative leave following the incident, but have since returned to regular duty,” the news release said.
The Davis Police Department says an independent investigation into the use of deadly force remains underway by the West Sacramento Police Department, which will turn its findings over to the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office for review. The Davis Police Department’s professional standards division will conduct an investigation to determine whether officers acted in compliance with internal policies.
Davis detectives also continue to investigate the death of Carol Gray.
In Thursday’s news release, the department says these investigations may take “several months or more to complete.”
One officer suffered minor injuries in the incident, requiring a finger splint, according to the news release.
©2020 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)
Visit The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.) at www.sacbee.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.