Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Desire Terrorist

'The Desire Terrorist'

Len Davis was an intimidating presence. Standing more than six feet tall and weighing over 200 pounds, he had acquired a fearsome reputation on both sides of the law by the time he reached his early 30s. Growing up in the projects and on the streets of the city's Ninth Ward, he was tough and mean. Before enrolling in the New Orleans Police Academy, in 1987, he had already accumulated a record from the department on which he would later serve.

Two years before he began his police training, according to published reports, he had been arrested for battery, urinating in public and an undisclosed charge on a municipal warrant. Apparently these offenses were forgiven as he was allowed to enter the academy but, while there, he was suspended for unspecified "disciplinary reasons." He was allowed to resume his training several months later, after working a few months as a patrol officer on the academy grounds.

However, once he became a certified police officer, Davis' offenses began piling up in earnest. The Times-Picayune reported that, during his seven-year career at NOPD, most of which was in the city's Fifth Police District, Davis was suspended four times and officially reprimanded twice. One of his suspensions lasted 51 days after he was accused of beating a woman in the head with his flashlight in 1992. Numerous complaints were filed against him with Internal Affairs and the OMI. More than 20 of these complaints were never acted upon by either agency. The accusations against Davis included brutality, physical intimidation, discourtesy and theft. Quite a shabby record for one of the city's "finest."

"He's got an internal affairs jacket (file) as thick as a telephone book," one unidentified officer commented to a Times-Picayune reporter, shortly after Davis' arrest for orchestrating Groves's murder. Writing in the Times-Picayune on December 9, 1994, James Gill said, "though the competition is tough, Len Davis may just be the most dangerous criminal ever to have worn the uniform of a New Orleans police officer."

Yet, despite the numerous complaints and departmental charges against him, Davis had received two medals from NOPD during his tenure. One of these was the department's second-highest honor, the Medal of Merit. In 1993, Davis and Williams were honored for chasing down and arresting two teenagers who had robbed a supermarket. These achievements, however, were overwhelmingly overshadowed by Davis' negative side of the ledger.

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