Get the state of Florida to re-open an investigation into Kayla Davis' death.

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What follows is a perfect storm of ineptitude and what I feel is an attempt by local law enforcement agencies, elected officials and governmental agencies to prevent discovering the truth regarding my 26-year old daughter Kayla Davis who died under suspicious circumstances in August of 2013.  The events that took place the night of the incident that led to her death were never fully investigated, an autopsy was never performed in spite of the family’s pleas to do so, and every agency that I have sought-out for answers and justice over the past five plus years have either stone-walled or put up a wall of defense. My focus is not on the person who I feel is responsible for taking my daughter’s life, but instead on the unsatisfactory process perpetrated by local and state law enforcement agencies that began the night our daughter ended up fatally injured in the middle of Beville Road in Daytona Beach, FL and has continued to this date.

My daughter Kayla touched many lives and is a light that was extinguished much too early. I miss her dearly, but my faith comforts me with the knowledge that I will see her again. I am simply asking for truth and justice for my daughter Kayla, and in the process hopefully obtaining some measure of closure for our family.  The loss of a child is catastrophic to any parent. Exacerbating this tragedy is the lack of investigation and blatant mishandling of the incident.  

I am petitioning to have an independent unbiased investigation into the cause of my daughter Kayla’s death.  I am asking for this investigation to be performed completely outside of Volusia County’s 7th Judicial District and law enforcement system because in my opinion from the very beginning they have shown bias, ineptitude and in my opinion have used every method at their disposal to cover up their improper handling of the case and have shown no true commitment to seeking justice for my daughter.  

I already made a petition directly to the Office of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.  As I suspected would happen when I sent it, the Governor assigned review of the request to a low-level aid who provided the standard response I have received from every agency I sought out for help, namely; “we aren’t the right office for this type of request…”.  I ask myself why the highest position in State of Florida can’t order an independent investigation?  If not the Governor’s office, what higher power do I have available to me when all other agencies under the Governor’s Office have all said the same thing?  Even more disturbing is that the Governor’s Office has already interceded in past cases.  I suspect the answer is because I and my deceased daughter just don’t rank high enough in the political and economic influence areas of the State, and are therefore summarily dismissed without meaningful attention.  You the reader can help me to get the political influence I need to move this request forward by signing this petition!

Background

On August 31, 2013 Labor Day Weekend my daughter Kayla Davis was involved in a serious accident which resulted in her hospitalization and subsequent death on September 18, 2013, one day after she turned 26. Kayla was highly educated with a master’s degree in social work and a minor in criminal justice, was working as a family therapist supported the judicial system and worked as a volunteer for the Deland Police Department's Citizen Patrol for two years. She nannied dozens of children and infants, and was highly respected by her peers, coworkers and friends. Kayla did not have a history of drug abuse, was not suicidal or have a criminal record.

According to the statement in the police report, Kayla and her boyfriend were arguing while he was driving on State Road 400 in Daytona Beach FL and she asked him to stop the truck so that she could get out. The boyfriend refused to stop the vehicle, and Kayla then told him that she would jump if he refused to do so (and clicked open her door).   According to his statement, he then taunted her saying, "go ahead and jump", and she subsequently exited the vehicle while it was traveling at an unknown speed.  I, the family’s independent investigator (former Detective Bureau Commander), and an independent forensic pathologist have all come to believe that Kayla did not willingly leave the vehicle.

According to her close friend and coworker, on the night of the incident she had been on the phone with Kayla and overheard the boyfriend screaming at my daughter in the background. Kayla said to her co-worker that if she did not hear from her within an hour to call her back. Approximately two (2) minutes after the phone call ended, the 911 call was made and Kayla was lying critically injured in the middle of the road. We have multiple statements from her close friends and coworkers which demonstrate an apparent history of domestic violence from her boyfriend, including him entrapping Kayla's arms in his truck and dragging her across a parking lot such that her arm was fractured.

Her boyfriend was out of work with no apparent income at the time of the incident. Background checks confirm he has had multiple arrests, has been cited on multiple occasions for battery, falsifying reports, careless driving and leaving the scene of an accident. He was arrested January 2, 2014 on a class 2 felony with $6,000 bail. The State Attorney's Office for unknown reasons cancelled the charge and closed the case. Another event on July 15, 2014 for resisting arrest with violence was also dropped. Yet another one is a Boynton Beach Police Report incident where a young girl overdosed while in his presence. The case was transferred to Volusia County and he was ordered to complete a drug program. The State since agreed to vacate the plea about the drug charges. The case was closed and evidence will be disposed of by the DBPD's evidence custodians. (Volusia County Clerk of Circuit Court's case number 201031722CFAES.) We recently found about another complaint against him from South Daytona Beach PD for Domestic Violence dated 11-4-2018 from his current and live-in girlfriend, who filed charges against him for threating her and over concerns for the child they now share together case #18110032. Again, on 11-26-18 a narrative/supplement report was written to be sure that it was understood that it was determined not to be criminal nature and was reported for informational purposes only, and that the case is to be considered inactive.

Basis for Request of Review Outside of 7th Judicial District & SA Larizza’s Purview

The following is a listing of circumstances that I believe involved either undue influence, incompetency, or neglect by Volusia County, the Daytona Beach Police Department (DBPD), the State Attorney’s Office/RJ Larizza and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, who in our opinion intentionally stopped the family from obtaining the truth due to the systemic failure, not just by an individual officer/detective, but as a law enforcement agency.  In addition, I believe the quality of the investigations by DBPD were compromised by the investigations apparent bias in favor of clearing the suspect, instead of objectively pursuing all the available facts, a bias that more than one investigator admitted to our family and the Team assisting me with the pursuit of Justice for Kayla. A partial list of the numerous items that in my opinion point to this breakdown in the system follow, and are in no apparent order of severity or importance:

Officers failed to recognize or chose to ignore signs of impairment from a suspect and thereby purposefully or negligently violated Florida Statute 316.1933 by not dui testing the driver. A Daytona Beach police protocol or procedure, that we were told has since been corrected, somehow prevented an impaired driver investigation by an on-call Detective.

Information obtained by an officer and the on-call detective from the suspect that the victim herself opened the door, was ignored and then compounded when assignment of an Accident Reconstructionist was engaged. The blatant contradiction of information was disregarded and purposely or mistakenly not provided to the reconstructionist, who then engaged in testing and analysis based upon an incorrect fact pattern despite police knowledge to the contrary.

An investigative evaluation of the interviews/interrogation between the suspect and the lead detective shows multiple indications of misinterpretation and mishandling and is contrary to even basic investigative goals and objectives in a suspect interview.

One of the people who appeared at the scene during the event, observed by multiple eyewitnesses, I suspect was an undercover or plainclothes police officer.  DBPD police told us that they do not know who he was and never followed up to obtain his statement. But witnesses sought out by the family investigator put him at the scene and state that he ran straight over to the driver of the vehicle first, not to our daughter who was lying unconscious in the middle of the road.

A command staff officer ignored or declined a notification by the on-call detective that should have prompted follow-up investigation of the suspect as an impaired driver. Then Captain Capri of DBPD in our opinion mislead the family, saying that if he had been at the scene a DUI test would have been performed, when in fact we have learned that he was called from the scene that night by Detective Deschamps, telling him that the driver smelled of alcohol and had been drinking all day. Despite this timely notice of the information it was ignored.

There were multiple witnesses to past domestic violence perpetrated by the driver of the vehicle, including knowledge of alarming conditions that existed within minutes of Kayla’s fatal injuries, including the fact that the driver and Kayla were fighting to the extent that she wanted her friend to know what was happening. These witnesses were never interviewed, nor events addressed by the police, even though they were made available.

A neighborhood canvas or follow-up with 911 callers was not conducted and no public request for assistance was made; not even after Kayla died. A token witness follow-up occurred but only after police conduct was questioned.

Why was the suspect vehicle not impounded? Forensic evaluation was not done. There is no police narrative to report on the results of even a cursory examination at the scene of the vehicle. At a minimum why was that not done?  Conditions existing in the interior of the truck contribute to probable cause that a crime had been committed but were overlooked or ignored.  These included the presence of beer/cans, (the same as found in the road), and the position of beer and cozies in vehicle.  

Follow-up direction by supervisory staff for the lead detective to address domestic history was not done.  I was told by one of the Sergeant’s from DBPD that the detective who attempted to look for it did not have the access to get the information.  Why not?

The suspect was asked to come to the police station for follow-up questioning, but Miranda warnings were not given causing contents of the interview to be considered inadmissible. What should have been a suspect interview, was instead performed by the officers as though the suspect was a victim needing to be consoled.

Why, when hospital staff expected it, the family requested it, and the medical examiner’s investigator prepared for it, did an autopsy get circumvented after Daytona Beach police conferred with the medical examiner thereby ignoring hospital staff opinions regarding the nature of Kayla’s injuries, subsequently supported by an independent forensic pathologist?

On April 17, 2014, I received a phone call from (SAS) Rick Ward as a follow up to our initial complaint to the State Attorney’s Office and DBPD. In our conversation he mentioned that he would be contacting FDLE’s Orlando Regional Operations Center to convene a SMART (Specialized Multi-Agency Review Team) panel to review DBPD’s investigation of our daughter’s death. On July 16, 2014, the SMART panel apparently met and reviewed the investigation.  The family was very specific and told (SAS) Ward that we had supplemental investigatory information that we wanted to be sure that the FDLE and the Panel had before the meeting took place. As of this date we still have none of the supporting documents and recommendations given by the smart panel members, which apparently included representatives from the State Attorney’s office, forensic experts, traffic Homicide Investigators, along with other professionals in the law enforcement field. Multiple public records requests yielded nothing other than a short Narrative/Supplement dated 11-25-14 from DBPD, saying that because of the recommendations made by the Smart Panel, the case had been officially closed.

It appears there was little to no feedback offered from the SMART Panel members which lends itself to the belief that most of the members were reluctant to criticize or correct the detective who gave them the summary, or they did provide it, but the feedback was not reported.  We now know that the detective did a Power Point presentation and FDLE had put together an E-book for the detective to give all the SMART panel members.  I have made multiple Public Records requests to see the fully detailed presentation and report summarizing the SMART Panel’s findings but have been unsuccessful in obtaining it.

A Computerized Voice Stress Analysis (CVSA) test was performed on the suspect and the family was told that he “passed”, yet no documentation was provided substantiating the statement even after multiple Public Records requests. (We were told in our meeting with DBPD on August 29, 2014 that the officers who performed the test cannot locate the reports.)  

We were told there is no dash-cam or body camera footage available from the night of the incident, yet there were probably five or more units and a dozen officers that reported to the scene, including one from South Daytona Police Department. One of the responders, Officer Connelly who went to the scene first, was apparently wearing his because when he came to the hospital to interview myself and my husband, and he had his axon recorder. When I asked for this with a formal Public Records Request, I was told that I needed a court order.

Conclusion and Request for an Independent Review

It is unknown whether the fault with DBPD rests on a lack of training or general incompetence. Or even worse, did complacency, undue influence, or some other disturbing condition exist to allow such a result? The level of failure is so pronounced that a former Detective Bureau Commander and experienced investigator that has been assisting the family, stated that in his opinion in the more than 40 years he has been conducting and supervising investigations, he has never seen such a complete breakdown and failure in law enforcement during an investigation.

This family cannot and will not accept that our daughter’s death was accidental. We have carried on our own investigation for the past five plus years keeping meticulous notes. We have performed all the research that the DBPD neglected to perform, have expended significant personal financial resources, and have exhausted all our avenues for truth and justice for our daughter to no avail. Now it is time for the agencies that we have been told our entire lives are there to protect and serve the public, to answer for their incompetency and maleficence.

I am asking through this petition that Governor DeSantis help me to find truth and justice for our family.  I am asking that he change the wrong with this case and make it right and honor the family’s request to get it reassigned out of Volusia County and the 7th Judicial District due to a conflict of interest with all the entities involved who I feel are afraid to admit that mistakes took place during the investigation into my daughter’s suspicious death. I feel that in good faith I have done everything in my power to work with Circuit 7 Volusia County, the State Attorney’s office, DBPD and FDLE, all to no avail.  

My daughter, Kayla was denied a thorough review and investigation to determine what happened the night she ended up unconscious in the middle of the road. In Kayla’s case, one mistake compounded another until justice was denied and the only thing that occurred were apologies and excuses. Please help the family and show that you are prepared to usher into the State of Florida a system that is based on doing what is right, not what is easiest.

A host of additional information that in my opinion supports my opinion of the inadequacy of the investigation is available on the Kayla’s Angels Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kaylasangels1