The Desire Terrorist
The Lower Ninth and the World of Kim Groves
The Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans lies between the Industrial Canal which connects the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, the St. Bernard Parish (county) line, South Claiborne Avenue and the river. It is a predominantly black neighborhood of small corner groceries, small corner bars and just about as many small churches as there are groceries and bars combined. It is one of the poorest and least gentrified sections of the city. Rock and roll immortal Fats Domino, who grew up in the Lower Ninth, has his opulent home at Caffin and St. Claude avenues but it is one of only a few nice houses in that part of the city.
Most of the houses in the Lower Ninth are of the "shotgun" type; long and narrow with front living rooms, a rear kitchen and a continuous series of rooms between them. Many of these shotguns, including those that are inhabited, are run-down and rickety. Dating back to the early 20th century, many of them have never had a new coat of paint or even the most routine maintenance since they were built. As the neighborhood joke goes, "The only thing keeping these houses together is the termites holding hands."
The home that Kim Marie Groves shared with her 78-year-old grandmother, Georgia Falls, and her three teenage children, was one of many like it in the Lower Ninth. They lived in the 1300 block of Alabo Street which runs from above South Claiborne to the river. Groves worked as a part-time security guard at the Louisiana Superdome, struggling as best she could to support her kids and her grandmother. Her boyfriend's name was Sylvester "Jimmy" Jones.
During Davis' trial, it was revealed that Groves and Jones had quite a number of fights, some of which were extremely violent. Groves received serious bruises as a result of some of them and at least once she required hospitalization. She was also into drugs. When the autopsy was done on her body at Charity Hospital, traces of crack were found in her system and drug-delivery paraphernalia was found in her possession. Kim Groves did not have an easy or especially pleasant life.
However, for the most part, she lived on the right side of the law. On October 11, 1994, she was doing her duty as a good citizen in reporting an instance of police brutality that she witnessed. She filed a report with Internal Affairs in which she claimed to have seen Sammie Williams chasing a teenager named Nathan Norwood and hitting him in the head with the butt of his pistol. Williams and Davis were reportedly trying to track down a suspect in the shooting of police officer Michael Mims but, when they approached Norwood, he ran and they gave chase.
Williams later admitted in court that he struck Norwood with his gun and let him go when it turned out he wasn't the suspect they were seeking. Groves came up to them and demanded to know why Williams assaulted her "nephew" and, reportedly, some heated words were exchanged. Groves reported the incident to IAD and she picked the two officers out of a photo lineup.
Even though reports to IAD by private citizens were supposed to be kept in confidence, somehow Davis found out who filed it the same day or the next. In a twisted way, he interpreted it to be a complaint against him and he swore vengeance against Groves and IAD. His expletive-filled tirades against her and the department's complaint investigation division were captured on audio tape from bugged cell phone calls. A nightmarish vigil was about to begin