The Desire Terrorist
The 'Bloody Fifth'
The Fifth District, known locally at the time as the "Bloody Fifth," accounted for the largest percentage of the city's murders in its record-breaking year of 1994. Nearly one-third of them -- 145 out of 421 -- took place within its boundaries. Many of these murders occurred in the Desire and Florida housing projects. The street that was the destination of the streetcar in Tennessee Williams's famous play was anything but "desirable" during the 1980s and 1990s. The sound of gunfire, often between warring drug gangs, was an all-too-familiar sound to its residents. Even innocent bystanders, including children, became tragic statistics when a stray bullet put an end to their lives.
For many years, the Fifth District had been known as a "dumping ground" for some of NOPD's most troublesome officers. In 1985, an officer named Lloyd Dickerson was arrested for a string of armed robberies he was accused of pulling off while in uniform patrolling the district. He confessed to freebasing cocaine and apparently needed the money to feed his habit. In his confession, he implicated ten other officers, nine of whom were also assigned to the Fifth. However, instead of trying to clean up the problems within the department, the top brass merely shifted personnel around. As quoted in the Times-Picayune, the director of the city's police watchdog agency, the Metropolitan Crime Commission, accused them of "sweeping the problems under the rug."
Davis not only fit in well with this bad company in the "Bloody Fifth," he exemplified it. A local minister, who had accompanied several Desire project residents to IAD to complain about Davis, called him the "Desire Terrorist." Davis, the minister told an interviewer from the Times-Picayune, "was very brutal." The situation got so bad that residents appealed to the city councilman representing the district. The councilman reportedly requested that Davis be transferred out the neighborhood.
But, even while being reassigned to another area, Davis continued to haunt his old stomping grounds and hang with his old criminal buddies. One of those he frequently hung with was Paul "Cool" Hardy. No stranger to NOPD's records office himself, Hardy was a notorious drug dealer who had twice been arrested on murder charges but cleared. Like Davis, he also had a fearsome reputation on the street as one to not be messed with. That reputation was enough to scare off any potential witnesses who could have fingered and testified against him, especially because he was rumored to be a cold-blooded killer with a fearsome arsenal at his disposal.
Davis and Hardy, along with a coterie of other crooked cops and known desperadoes, hung out regularly together at sleazy bars on Downman Road and Chef Menteur Highway close to the city's Lower Ninth Ward. Among them were Sammie Williams, Davis's partner on the job and in crime. They went to one of these dives to celebrate on the night Groves was murdered.