Idaho inmate loses suit claiming Canyon deputy shot him unnecessarily

Michael L. Davis
Michael L. Davis

A federal jury last week sided with a Canyon County sheriff’s deputy over shooting fugitive Michael Lance Davis during an incident four and a half years ago.

Davis, now 34, claimed Christopher McCormick used excessive force by shooting him in the stomach near Skyview High School on Jan. 17, 2012. He said other deputies were nearby and could have taken him into custody without gunfire.

He had asked for $10 million in compensatory damages and $100 million in punitive damages. He also sought a lifetime restraining order against the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office.

McCormick, now a lieutenant who heads Canyon County’s criminal investigations section, said Davis pointed what appeared to be a gun at him and yelled that he was going to shoot the then-sergeant. It turned out Davis was carrying a laser pointer that resembled a gun. McCormick shot Davis after a Taser shot from another deputy had no effect.

McCormick introduced transcripts and portions of a taped interview with Davis while he was hospitalized. Davis said he didn’t want to return to prison and would rather die than be locked up again. He also said he intended to make police believe he had a weapon so they would shoot him.

In his lawsuit, Davis denied having a weapon or yelling threats to McCormick or other deputies. He said he had his hands in the air when he was shot.

In his complaint, Davis said he has no abdominal muscles on one side and his liver and intestines had to be stitched up after the shooting. He said he continues to suffer mental anguish and nightmares.

Davis, then 30, was wanted on warrants charging him with skipping bail on drug charges, aggravated domestic battery with strangulation and violation of a no-contact order. He had spent a third of his life incarcerated, including eight years in prison on drug delivery and forgery convictions.

Davis went on the lam after his mother posted a $30,000 bond. He was on the run for six months with his girlfriend in Utah and California but later was discovered back in Nampa in a home across from Skyview High School. He ran away when U.S. marshals approached the home to take him into custody.

Davis later entered an Alford plea to two counts of assault against two other deputies involved in the incident. He isn’t scheduled to be released from the Idaho State Correctional Center until January 2032.

Davis’ lawyer tried to keep the jury from hearing about the Alford plea, in which a defendant doesn’t admit guilt but agrees the evidence is strong enough to bring a conviction if the case went to trial. Chief U.S. Magistrate Ronald Bush ruled that McCormick’s attorney could introduce evidence of Davis’ conviction.

During his interview with police at the hospital, Davis said “It’s all my fault. I take the blame ... my whole life is about karma.” Bush, however, did not allow that portion of the tape to be played to jurors.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @IDS_Sowell