(INDIANAPOLIS) - A trial date has been set for Major Davis, Jr., the man accused in the July 5th shooting death of Indianapolis Metro Police Officer Perry Renn.
The trial is set for Dec. 1, 2014.
Last week, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry filed paperwork seeking the death penalty for Davis in the shooting of Officer Renn.
The probable cause affidavit states that Davis fired rounds from an assault rifle at Officer Renn, who was responding to a call about shots fired that night.
Curry said over the last 18 months, there have been 22 instances of citizens firing on officers. By filing this death penalty case, Curry said he hoped to send a message.
"It is clear that there are those in our city who believe that our police officers are fair game. To those individuals, make no mistake. Make no mistake," Curry repeated. "We will prosecute you to the maximum extent possible under the law."
Curry cited two aggravating circumstances leading to the death penalty decision: that Davis killed Renn while the officer acted in the course of his duty; and that the murder was motivated by an act that Renn performed while acting out his duty as he responded to shots fired.
Curry says he first talked with Officer Renn's family about the decision, which defense expert Jack Crawford says is no surprise.
"Because they're going to be on board now for a very lengthy and painful process," Crawford said. "In death penalty cases, it's almost never over."
Crawford would know. He is not part of this case, but in 2002, he represented the man convicted of killing Beech Grove Police Ofc. William Toney. Fourteen years after that shooting, the officer's killer is still on death row.
When Gregory Resnover was electrocuted in 1994, it was 14 years after he killed Sgt. Jack Ohrberg.
"The taxpayer, by the time this is all over, that may be years from now, will probably pay out at least a million for the case," said Crawford.
He says prosecutors must show Major Davis II intended to kill Renn. But the defense may try to show Davis was intoxicated or had mental issues.
"He was acting strangely, shooting into the air," said Crawford.
Davis' mother's spiritual adviser says she has no comment on the death penalty now. Mmoja Ajabu, whose son is sentenced to life without parole in three Carmel killings, says on the night of the police shooting, doctors resuscitated Major Davis after he was shot by police.
"So God chose for him to live and we are concerned man will try to undo that which God has done," Ajabu says.
But the public safety director's office supports the prosecutor.
"We are here to show their support and also thank the community for the support they have shown for Officer Renn and his family," said Dep. Public Safety Director Valerie Washington.
"IMPD appreciates the diligence put forth by the Marion County Prosecutor's Office in this case. We, like all citizens are seeking justice, closure and peace," IMPD Chief Rick Hite said.
The police union is behind Curry, too. Vice President Rick Snyder says "It's about every officer, man and woman, who step forward everyday to stand the line to protect our community."
Lynn Renn, Officer Renn's widow, issued this statement:
"I want to thank Prosecutor Terry Curry and his office for their careful consideration of all the facts before making this difficult decision. He has personally kept me informed and consulted me throughout the entire process. I also want to thank my family, the community, FOP Lodge #86, Chief Hite, and my IMPD family for their continued support and encouragement during this tough time."
Davis' next court appearance is scheduled for September 3.
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