Opelika Police Shoot Airman Holding Wallet
Warning Graphic: For informational and educational purposes only
On 06 March 2014 Opelika Police Officer Phillip Hancock responded to a call in which the victim, 20-year-old Airman Michael Davidson, had been in a minor accident with a tractor trailer while en route to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C.. Davidson and the tractor trailer driver had pulled over to the side of the road and exchanged information before the arrival of Officer Hancock. The officer arrived at which point Davidson attempted to get out of his vehicle (made difficult by the slope he was parked on) with his wallet in his hand. Davidson stepped out of the car with his wallet and stated “I am an Airman headed to my…” as the officer shouted “show me your hands”. As Davidson raised his hands still holding onto his wallet Officer Hancock fired two rounds, one of which struck Davidson in the abdomen. Davidson almost bled to death but was saved by a team of surgeons. The round severed an artery and pierced the intestines and bowels of the victim.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the judgment of the Southern District Court of Iowa in that the use of force by Ofc. Hancock was reasonable. However, they did call the shooting a disastrous mistake, but that the position of Davidson's wallet and hands right before the shooting meant that the mistake did not violate Davidson's constitutional rights.
On 28 September 2018 a Federal Judge dismissed a lawsuit against the City of Opelika, the Police Chief, and Officer Hancock by Airman Davidson.