A Beckville graduate was shot in Alabama by an Opelika Police officer Thursday after the man stopped on the side of the interstate because of a minor traffic accident.
Air Force Airman 1st Class Michael Davidson, a 2012 graduate of Beckville High School, is in now in East Alabama Medical Center after undergoing extensive life saving surgery, his father, Billy Davidson said.
The shooting happened Thursday night, March 6 on the side of I-85 between the Torbert Road and West Point Parkway exits.
Michael’s father said he was on the phone with him shortly before the shooting.
He was traveling to North Carolina where he would be stationed at Seymore Johnson AFB. Michael told his father, the weather was horrible and he was very tired, at which time Billy urged him to pull off somewhere and rest.
After the call, Michael was involved in a minor accident according to his dad. “Apparently, Michael’s vehicle and a ‘diesel rig’ were involved in a minor accident,” Billy said, “and they pulled to the side of the interstate to exchange information. He got his billfold out and was going to talk to the driver.”
Michael never got to speak to the driver of the truck.
“He remembers hearing a yell coming from someone behind him. He saw the reflection of flashing lights on the truck he was beside, and realizing it was the police, raised his arms and turned around.”
That’s when Officer Phillip Hancock, a seven-year veteran with OPD, shot Michael in the stomach.
“After being shot,” his father said, “the officer was yelling at Michael, asking where the ‘other person’ was. Michael was traveling alone, and has no idea who the ‘other person’ is.”
Other officers responded to the scene. “Michael remembers seeing the officers searching his vehicle while he was laying on the ground. He tried to sit up and asking why he was shot, but he was pushed back to the ground and told to stay down,” his dad said.
Billy said details were sketchy after that because his son, who had lost a lot of blood, passed out.
The bullet hit an artery in his stomach and damaged organs. Billy said he was told they almost lost Michael several times during the surgery. “He lost so much blood they ran out of blood and had to use blood expanders,” Billy said.
Michael’s parents were not notified of the shooting until around noon the following day. “They didn’t even have the decency to call and let me know one of their people had shot my son. I didn’t find out about it until around lunch time Friday. An investigator calls telling me he was investigating the shooting… and that’s how I was told. That wouldn’t have happened in Texas. I’d have known about it within 30 minutes if it had happened in Texas.”
The father is disturbed by the way authorities are portraying Michael. “When I got here, I found out they hadn’t even been to the hospital to check on Michael. They’re trying to make him out to be a criminal or something. One of the nurses came in today, and after talking to Michael a little she mentioned that she was surprised. She said she wasn’t expecting to find a sweet kid when she came in, she was expecting a hardened criminal.”
Billy went on to talk about the type of person Michael is. “He’s a great kid. He’s so excited to be in the Air Force, he just graduated boot camp and finished up training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. He graduated in with high grades in F-15 Avionics, and is looking forward to a bright future in the Air Force.”
Michael was home in Beckville for a week before taking this journey. His GMC Encore was packed up, loaded down with all of his stuff.
“We don’t know where his Encore is right now,” Billy said. “When I asked the police where it is, I was told the state has it. When I talked to the state, they said the police have it.”
Lack of communication is also to blame for the delay in notifying Michael’s family about the shooting.
Billy said he went to the Opelika Police Department to try to find answers. “When I asked why we hadn’t been notified sooner, I got an apology and was told they turned it over to the state and thought the state had notified us.”
“Right now, the police aren’t giving me much information. I’d like to know why my un-armed son was shot. I’d like to know why they are trying to make him look like a criminal. I’d also like to know where Michael’s Encore is, and who the 18-wheeler driver was that was involved in the original accident. Michael’s a great kid with a bright future, and he doesn’t deserve this.”
As reported in the Opelika-Auburn News, Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller, who was briefed by Opelika Police Chief John McEachern III Thursday night and again Friday morning, said, “I understand the officer involved will be suspended until the investigation is complete. Of course, certainly we’ll continue to compensate the officer.”