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Video: Gulfport police stop Goliath Davis for suspicion of DUI

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Yesterday, an anonymous source contacted me with information that City of St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor and former Police Chief Goliath ‘Go’ Davis had been stopped by Gulfport Police on suspicion of DUI.

I don’t have to tell you how quickly I moved to investigate this matter.  I am surprised I did not get a ticket for speeding from the same police department I needed to question.

With the full cooperation of the Gulfport Police department, I was able to track down an incident log and dashcam video from December 15, 2009, when, in fact, Go Davis was pulled over for suspicion of DUI.

Gulfport Police Officer Zachary Mills – the city’s 2009 Officer of the Year – described erratic driving from a car heading north out of Downtown at 1:42 a.m. early on a Tuesday morning.

Mills detailed how the driver of the vehicle was driving just 10 m.p.h. in a 30 m.p.h. zone, as well as crossing the center line several times.

He pulled over Davis and immediately recognized him, but didn’t notice any signs of alcohol were present, so he let Davis head home after conducting a single test.

The Gulfport Police Department stands behind Mills, saying he did his job and needed to get back to patrol to find other drunk drivers.  But Mills never asked for Davis’ registration and never even checked his license either since Davis said he didn’t have it on him.

Davis, who was driving his city vehicle at the time, told 10 Connects that he wasn’t drinking that night and there shouldn’t be any questions about his behavior since the officer did his job and still didn’t cite him with anything.

I beg to differ. (And I am sorry if this puts me in the crosshairs of Goliath Davis.  This blog is partially about St. Petersburg politics.  An anonymous source tipped me off – first, before the St. Petersburg Times – and so I have an obligation to report what I learn.  Is one of Go’s old friends from the Police Department going to pull me over one night and – surprise – find my tailights busted out, etc. etc.  I hope not.)

Davis says he always drives slowly through Gulfport and only crossed the center lines because he was busy watching the cruiser in his rear-view mirror.

Alright, let’s start from the top.  You have to see the entire video of the police office trailing Davis. I am having a copy of the video made for me and will post it as soon as possible.  In the meantime, here’s what the full video shows in addition to what we see on the spliced footage.

First of all, it’s 1:42 in the morning and Davis is driving away from Gulfport’s bar and restaurant scene.

Officer Mills first sees Davis driving on the wrong side of the street as he APPROACHES Davis’s car.  Mills had to U-turn to get behind Davis’ car, so that’s horseshit about Davis veering onto the street lines because he was trying to watch the police car in his rearview mirror.  You know who veers onto street lines while they are driving?  Someone who has been drinking and driving.

Watching the full video, you’d see that Davis swerves all over the single lane road.  Not just once or twice, but several times over the course of a mile’s distance.  Right before he is pulled over Davis is still running over the street bumps. You know who runs over street bumps while they are driving at 1:42 a.m.? Someone who has been drinking and driving.

So fast-forward to the first moments after Officer Mills has pulled over Davis. Davis opens his car door while the officer is still in the patrol car, a huge no-no for anyone who has been pulled over by the police.  Someone who has been drinking and driving – or anybody who shows up on an episode of COPS.

Officer Mills immediately recognizes Davis and from here the whole incident gets weird: With Davis’ car-stereo blaring, Davis garbles something about not having his license.  The Deputy Mayor of St. Petersburg and the former Chief of Police does not have his divers’ license?  Who does he think he is?  Deveron Gibbons?

Take a look at the 1:32 point on this video.  Mills asks Davis if he can check his eyes and so Davis decides to get out of the car and starts walking foot in front of foot, just like in a field sobriety test.  Mind you, Officer Mills just asked him if he could check his eyes. You know who doesn’t have their driver’s license with them at 1:42 a.m. in the morning and, unprompted, engages in a portion of a field sobriety test? Someone who has been drinking and driving.

Keep watching the video and you’ll see Davis unable to stand straight up for more than a moment at a time. He also walks in a zig-zag to and from the officer.  Not one police officer who has seen this video could explain to me why Officer Mills performed the eye check of Davis outside of the range of the camera.

Not to be conspiratorial, but it’s obvious that Officer Mills was star-struck by Davis.  And it’s easy to understand why Mills did not want to be involved in an incident involving one of the most controversial figures in local politics.

Even if the right thing to do was to let Goliath Davis drive away – and it sure looked like Davis’ abandoned his philosophy of driving slow once he was let go – didn’t Davis have an obligation to inform anyone in City Hall that, while driving a city car, he got pulled over for suspicion of DUI?

Mayor Bill Foster hadn’t heard about the incident.  Davis doesn’t appear to have broken any city policies since administrators are not required to disclose interactions with police if they aren’t charged with crimes.

But let’s think about that for a moment.  If Davis had told Foster and Foster watched the entire video, would Davis’ new position with the Foster administration be jeopardized.

And what does Davis’ not telling Foster say about their relationship in general?  I’m sure that’s a question that will be answered in the coming days.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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