MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In a matter of weeks, Memphis will have a new top cop, Cerelyn Davis. As we do with anyone stepping into a big role, WREG did our research to keep you informed.
Our investigator Jessica Gertler just got hold of hundreds of pages of records from the Atlanta Police Department detailing a scandal that led to Davis’s firing, then reinstatement.
The documents show in the early 2000s, an Atlanta officer working a second job at a photo processing plant found graphic pictures of young girls with a man who happened to be an Atlanta police sergeant’s husband.
He says he turned those photos over, but no action was taken until 2007 when APD finally told the FBI. They turned over 50 sexually explicit photos showing 12- to 15-year-old girls the husband paid.
An internal investigation was launched to find out who knew what and when.
Two detectives claim they told Davis, the unit commander at the time, about the photos, but she told them “cut it” — to stop investigating — while making a hand gesture in front of her neck.
Davis was also interviewed, but claims she only became aware of the photos in 2007.
Due to inconsistencies in their testimony the sheriff’s office used a computer voice stress analyzer, which indicated deception in Davis’s voice — but not the detectives who accused her of knowing about the photos much earlier.
Internal investigators wrote, “Davis employed a countermeasure technique which involved clinching her teeth in an attempt to alter her measurable vocal output during the examination.”
They had others evaluate it blindly, and they agreed she “showed deception.” Davis was fired.
In a press conference in Memphis last month, she stressed she was used as a scapegoat.
“I refuse to take the blame for something I had nothing to do with. I decided to fight the case, because I knew if I fought the case, the truth would come out,” Davis said.
Davis appealed her termination to the city’s civil service board and won. The board wrote that Davis provided “convincing testimony about a meticulous set-up of the unit she supervised.”
“One of the investigators admitted during the hearing that I never told them not to investigate the particular case,” she said.
Mayor Jim Strickland said he reviewed what happened in Atlanta and felt comfortable with his decision to appoint her.
“That was a bogus charge,” he said.
Davis starts her role as Memphis’ Police Chief later this month.
We reached out to see if Davis had any comments about the files we received. We have yet to hear back.