RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Pat Davis, one of Albuquerque’s most liberal city councilors who has made police reform part of his agenda, is facing calls to resign over his 2004 shooting of a Black man as a Metropolitan Washington, D.C., police officer.
The left-leaning ProgressNow New Mexico — an advocacy group Davis founded in 2011 — demanded Thursday that he step down from his council seat and his various other positions on committees and task forces.
In a statement, the group said Davis’ shooting of the man was “troubling” and it criticized “tough on crime” promises he made during his unsuccessful 2009 campaign for Bernalillo County sheriff.
“ProgressNow New Mexico finds it imperative to continue calling out racism when we see it and holding perpetrators accountable for their actions,” said Alissa Barnes, executive director of the group. “No matter who that person is.”
Davis, who is white, served as executive director of the group but left in 2017.
He dismissed calls to resign from his city posts and said the man he shot later pleaded guilty to firearms charges.
The demand for Davis to resign came amid nationwide anti-racism and police brutality protests that are pressuring cities to reform their police departments and change how officers treat Black residents.
The call also followed a blog post by former Albuquerque Chief Public Safety Officer Pete Dinelli that detailed a 2006 federal lawsuit filed by the African American man that Davis shot. According to the lawsuit, Davis violated the constitutional rights of Moses Bell when he shot him as Bell sat in a car.
A federal judge later dismissed the lawsuit.
Davis said he shot Bell during a traffic stop after he spotted a gun in the driver’s hand and lunged into the car to grab it. Bell drove off as Davis shot him twice in the shoulder.
Davis said voters in two elections have sent him to the city council and that he has spoken honestly about the problematic training and culture of policing he encountered.
“At a time when we are at the precipice of long-overdue changes in policing and racial justice, I regret that we are being distracted by relitigating my past which is not only well documented but is core to my personal story and the reasons why I have dedicated my life to positive social change,” Davis said in a statement.
As a councilor, Davis successfully pushed legislation that decriminalized marijuana in Albuquerque and opened formerly secret police internal affairs investigations to civilian oversight.
This story corrects a previous version to say Pat Davis established ProgressNow New Mexico in 2011.
Associated Press writer Russell Contreras is a member of the AP’s Race and Ethnicity team. Follow Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras