'Cop Killer' Troy Davis Deserves Clemency

Troy Davis has been sitting on death row in Georgia since he was convicted of murdering a police officer in 1991. Three times he has come up for execution and three times he has been spared with hours left. As of September 21, it looks like his chances have run out. He was denied clemency and is scheduled for execution at 7 p.m. And the horrible part is: He may very well be innocent.

Davis was convicted of killing police officer Mark MacPhail, who was shot dead as he tried to help a homeless man who was being attacked. The conviction was based entirely on witness testimony that had inconsistencies even back when he was on trial. But now all but two of the witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony. They claim that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.


I don't care what side of the death penalty you sit on, if there is even one chance of executing an innocent man, you ought to be against it.

Even worse, one of the two witnesses who has not recanted is Sylvester "Red" Coles, the man who is known as the principle alternative suspect. In fact, there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. And yet Georgia is still planning to execute.

He has support from a former FBI director, former President Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict XVI to name a few. But he should have every one's support. Because no matter how possible it is that he is guilty, if there is any shadow of a doubt, he should be granted clemency. Unlike a 20 year jail sentence, there is nothing the state can do to make up for what they have done if they kill him.

And yet, the people of the state of Georgia seem more than content to let this man be executed for a crime he insists and evidence even suggests he did not commit. Keep him in prison, by all means, but please do not kill an innocent man. We will not be able to change our minds or go back on that decision. We will be a country of cold-blooded killers.

It is sickening.

Davis says he is at peace, though he will continue to fight to the moment of his death. But for the rest of us, we should all realize this could be us. Someday we could be tried for a crime we did not commit, convicted and locked away. This should anger every American with a heart.

If the death penalty is used, it ought to be used only in the most extreme cases, the ones in which people have committed mass murder or genocide in such an obvious way that no one could possibly see them as anything but guilty. But if there is doubt -- any doubt really -- then we should beg, plead and cajole our lawmakers not to kill in our names. There is simply too much at stake.

If Troy Davis dies by lethal injection Wednesday, we can't go back. We will have lost a fundamental part of what makes our country great and we can never get it back.

Does this horrify you?


Image via Andres Rueda/Flickr


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