Metro-East News

Details emerge about night officer fell off Poplar Street Bridge and died

Police escort the body of fallen Washington Park officer

Police escort the body of auxiliary officer Ricardo Davis on Tuesday morning from the St. Louis Medical Examiner’s Office to the Officer Funeral Home in East St. Louis.
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Police escort the body of auxiliary officer Ricardo Davis on Tuesday morning from the St. Louis Medical Examiner’s Office to the Officer Funeral Home in East St. Louis.

Police were still holding two men at the St. Clair County jail pending investigation and additional charges following a police chase that killed an auxiliary officer Saturday night.

The officer, 46-year-old Ricardo Davis, fell off the Poplar Street Bridge and later died of his injuries.

The two 19-year-old suspects are from East St. Louis and were both charged with involuntary manslaughter Tuesday morning.

Chaun’tuan M. Gillespie was the passenger in the suspect car and is being held on a $30,000 bail. Valention W. Miller was driving the suspect car and faces additional charges of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and aggravated fleeing from police over 21 mph. Miller was being held on a $40,000 bail.

They will both face three and five years if convicted on the involuntary manslaughter charge.

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Chaun’tuan M. Gillespie (left) and Valention W. Miller (right) Provided

Washington Park Police Chief Allen Bonds said the two suspects were found with guns, drugs and ski masks in a car. Miller was wanted on a warrant by Illinois State Police.

The two suspects struck multiple cars on the Poplar Street Bridge on Saturday while reportedly fleeing from police out of Washington Park, according to Bonds. The car eventually came to a rest after the driver rear ended a vehicle on the bridge.

“They hit seven vehicles on the bridge while they were fleeing,” Bonds said.

Bonds said the two suspects then jumped out of their car, hopped over some concrete medians there and continued running.

When the suspects realized they were in the eastbound lanes of the bridge and the traffic was coming towards them, they managed to hop some concrete medians and get across to the westbound lanes, according to Bonds.

Police began pursuing the Chevrolet Traverse after it sped past a patrol car in Washington Park in the 4100 block of St. Clair Avenue.

“The driver sped past the officer doing over 60 mph in a 35 mph zone,” Bonds said. “The car drove to 25th Street and went onto Interstate 64. Once my officer got the license plate of the car, he backed off.”

Bonds said the drive continued driving “erratically.”

“He struck multiple vehicles along the way. When my officer saw this, he had to proceed for the safety of the other motorists. He tried to catch up to him on the Poplar Street Bridge. But it wasn’t until he slammed into the rear of a black Nissan Altima that the suspects’ car stopped,” Bonds said.

Davis was a passenger in the Washington Park police car. Initially, he was not a part of the foot pursuit on the bridge.

But when Davis saw the suspects running back to the westbound lanes, he attempted to hop over the concrete median, thinking it had concrete beneath it — instead there was a gaping hole.

Davis fell between 40 and 50 feet down to the ground. He was taken by ambulance to St. Louis University Hospital, where he died shortly after 9 p.m.

A community mourns

Davis was an auxiliary officer in Brooklyn and Washington Park. He had served in Brooklyn since 2014. Auxiliary officers are civilian volunteers trained to assist the police force.

He also worked at Love Joy School as a kind of resource officer.

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Auxiliary Officer Ricardo Davis fell off the Poplar Street Bridge on Saturday night during a police chase and later died of his injuries. Provided

His Brooklyn chief, Thomas Jeffery, spoke Monday about his death. Jeffery was initially notified that Davis had suffered non life-threatening injuries during the chase.

“Two hours later, my lieutenant called me and told me he succumbed to his injuries. I immediately went to SLU Hospital. I held his hand and told him I was gonna miss him. I gave my condolences to his family, too.”

Jeffery said Davis was a great person and one of his most reliable auxiliary officers.

“He was a good man, and a good police officer,” Bonds said Monday, adding he had worked with multiple police departments and has two brothers who work for the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department.

“Law enforcement was in his blood. ... This seems so surreal. It’s like a bad dream or a nightmare. He was a son, a father, a brother, friend and more. He has six children,” Bonds said.

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Washington Park Chief Allen Bonds hugs Brooklyn Lt. Antonio White on Tuesday morning after police escorted Auxiliary Officer Ricardo Davis’ body from the St. Louis Medical Examiner’s Office to the Officer Funeral Home in East St. Louis. White and Davis were good friends. Carolyn P. Smith csmith@bnd.com

Brooklyn Police Lt. Antonio White said he was close with Davis.

“He was my best friend. He was the best man at my wedding. He was more than a friend. He was my brother. He was such a good person. He would do anything I asked him to do. He was very reliable,” White said

Davis was given a police escort from the St. Louis Medical Examiner’s Office to the Officer Funeral Home in East St. Louis on Tuesday morning.

“It’s very difficult for us right now and we know it’s a process that we will go through, but we will make it through on faith. We have lost our brother physically, but we will always carry him and the work he did for the community in our hearts and mind,” Bonds said.

An auxiliary officer for Washington Park police fell off the Poplar Street Bridge onto the ground during a police chase Saturday.

Carolyn P. Smith: 618-239-2503, @carolynhendri18
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