Attorney for Wardel Davis’ family speaks out

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- The attorney for Wardel Davis’ family wants answers, and told News 4 the fact that he’s not getting them, is a red flag.

Steven M. Cohen of the Hogan Willig law firm is representing Davis’ family. The unarmed 20-year-old died February 8 after a run-in with Buffalo Police on the city’s west side.

Davis was stopped by two officers near Hoyt and Arnold in the Grant-Ferry neighborhood around midnight Tuesday. According to Buffalo Police, Davis took off running and began fighting the officers when they approached him.

During the course of the scuffle, department officials told News 4 Davis appeared to suffer some sort of medical emergency.

Thomas Burton, a lawyer for one of the officers involved, told News 4 the officers began giving Davis CPR immediately, and continued until an ambulance arrived.

Davis was pronounced dead at Buffalo General Hospital early Wednesday morning.

Why Davis was stopped in the first place, was a question Buffalo Police couldn’t immediately answer.

Thursday, Burton told News 4 the officers saw Davis leave a house suspected of drug activity, and that the officers wanted to “see what he was up to.”

Burton said when they attempted to approach him, a violent struggle began.

Cohen claims Davis was actually leaving the home of a disabled woman, whom he apparently got groceries and cigarettes for. He said officers’ reason for stopping him shouldn’t be something that needs investigation.

“Well that is double speak, or guilty speak, for we have to get our story straight,” Cohen told News 4.

Cohen also expressed concern over the fact that a healthy, athletic, 20-year-old died suddenly. According to family, Davis suffered from mild asthma as a child, but didn’t experience symptoms as an adult.

Cohen wasn’t provided photos of the autopsy, nor given preliminary results. That, he said, raised another red flag.

Cohen is now trying to obtain photos he feels contradict the narrative told by Buffalo Police.

“I’m trying to get my hands on those pictures. The Buffalo Police have intimidated so many people now, that they’re afraid to talk to me,” he said.

The Attorney General’s office has taken over the investigation into Davis’ death, following a 2015 executive order from Gov. Cuomo. The order allows the AG’s office to get involved in cases when an unarmed civilian dies in police custody.

A spokesperson from the AG’s office said toxicology and autopsy results could take several weeks, if not months. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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