“Sheriff David Davis, First Witness for the Defense” – How the Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office’s Miscommunications Can Benefit the Alleged Tobesofkee Shooter
By David Dorer
On April 23, 2015, Basil Ghali, 24, of Macon Georgia turned himself in to the Bibb County sheriff’s office on a charge of reckless conduct with a gun – a misdemeanor charge stemming from a more-than month-old March 21st shooting on Lake Tobesofkee. When Ghali turned himself in, Bibb Sheriff David Davis made an announcement to the public. That announcement undermined the felony aggravated assault charge levied by District Attorney David Cooke against Ghali the next day.
The incident has garnered a good bit of local criticism lobbed at Sheriff Davis’ deputies, who allegedly confronted Ghali’s father, were denied consent to search or voluntary communication absent the presence of an attorney, and then failed to properly follow up and obtain the proper warrants. The case went seemingly uninvestigated for weeks, while the victims continually spoke out to the media demanding that justice be served.
I don’t in any way fault Ghali for exercising his constitutional right to make the Bibb County District Attorney David Cooke prove his case without giving him the fire power to do so. It’s every American’s right to remain silent when questioned by law enforcement at any stage of a police encounter. I do fault Sheriff Davis’ training of his deputies, and ultimately his lack of communication with the District Attorney’s office as solidifying what I consider to be a strong defense for Mr. Ghali.
It’s obvious that the responding deputies from the Bibb Sheriff’s office lacked the proper fourth amendment police training on how to obtain a warrant to overcome a lack of consent of a homeowner to search a premises. Sheriff Davis said as much when he announced that the deputies had been assigned to jail duty earlier this week.
But, Sheriff Davis also said that “[reckless conduct with a firearm] is the most appropriate charge based on the evidence and information available to investigators. If the deputies who initially responded to this incident had done what they were supposed to do, Basil Ghali might very well have been charged with aggravated assault. But they didn’t and, therefore, he wasn’t.”
What’s strange is what District Attorney David Cooke said in an email to the media on Friday: “Based upon the evidence they provided to me and other members of my staff, we presented information to a Bibb County magistrate, who issued a warrant for aggravated assault against Basil Ghali.”
How is it that two heads of law enforcement, the sheriff of Macon-Bibb and the district attorney, have such strikingly opposing views on the sufficiency of the evidence to charge Ghali with aggravated assault? How can the admittedly flawed investigation, with insufficient facts to warrant a felony charge, miraculously, overnight, become an investigation with enough probable cause to arrest for the defeated charge? If the testimony of Sheriff Davis that their investigation’s facts on Thursday didn’t support the warrant that was issued Friday isn’t compelling enough to invalidate the warrant in Superior Court, it certainly is testimony that a jury should hear about the weakness of the case that law enforcement perceives against Mr. Ghali.
This snafu substantially calls into question whether a treasure trove of new evidence was found in the 24 hours between Sheriff Davis’ statement and District Attorney Cooke’s statement, or if this aggravated assault arrest is to save face for an otherwise completely botched investigation. Furthermore, it illustrates a potential communicative breakdown between Davis and Cooke: the strength of the case should’ve been discussed between both of them before one undermines the other’s objectives.
Either way, if I represented Ghali, which I do not, I’d be very interested in having Sheriff Davis testify about his thoughts he’s made abundantly clear to the media on this case.