Devonte Davis ID'd as Oakland homicide victim

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Thursday March 16, 2023
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Devonte Davis was shot and killed in Oakland March 12, according to police. Photo: Courtesy Oakland LGBTQ Community Center
Devonte Davis was shot and killed in Oakland March 12, according to police. Photo: Courtesy Oakland LGBTQ Community Center

The name of a second gay Black man killed in a nine-day period was released by Oakland police Thursday.

Devonte Davis, 27, of Oakland, was fatally shot near the Oakland Coliseum Sunday, March 12, police stated.

The news came less than a week after police made an arrest in the stabbing death of another gay Black man, Curtis Marsh, a former member of the Oakland Gay Men's Chorus.

Oakland Police waited to release Davis' name until his family was notified.

When the Bay Area Reporter asked about Davis two days ago, Oakland Police Department Public Information Officer Kim Armstead stated that the department is investigating "a shooting that occurred on March 12, 2023, just after 9 a.m., in the 8100 block of Baldwin Street. Upon officers' arrival, they located a victim who had sustained multiple gunshot wounds."

Emergency responders showed up to assist the victim, Armstead stated.

"The victim was then transported to an area hospital where they succumbed to their injuries and was pronounced deceased at the hospital," Armstead continued. "A homicide callout was initiated, and the investigators responded to begin the follow-up investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death."

KTVU-TV reported that Davis was killed near a homeless encampment. Friends told the TV station that Davis went out of his way to help others.

Police said they have no evidence the Davis killing was a hate crime.

Oakland police told the B.A.R., "At this time, there is no evidence of a hate crime, however, investigators are looking into all possible leads."

Joe Hawkins, the co-founder and CEO of the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, said a memorial will be held at the center, which is located at 3207 Lakeshore Avenue, at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 18.

Hawkins, a gay Black man, told the B.A.R. that Davis' death is part of a larger problem.

"The actual number of Black gay men who are victims of homicide is severely underreported due to homophobia and stigma in Black communities," Hawkins stated. "Many families will not disclose the sexual orientation of their family member who was murdered. This is also true of Black transgender individuals. It is critical that advocates, friends, and allies provide a holistic description of queer victims of homicide in order for authorities to determine if a hate crime has been committed."

Hawkins added that the center will be there to advocate for communities of color.

"Few victim services exist in Alameda County for the kind of crimes queer people and men of color, particularly men, are most likely to experience, such as threats of violence, acts of violence, robbery, or that take into account their specific cultural, sexual orientation, or gender identity experiences," Hawkins stated.

He noted that the center, which opened in 2017, was established to help the community.

"Our LGBTQ center here in Oakland is founded by Black queer men and led mostly by LGBTQ people of color," he stated. "We are uniquely connected to communities of color and the issues we face. This connection allows us to be aware of and shine a spotlight on crime and how queer communities of color are impacted."

YB, a Black lesbian from Oakland who knew Davis, said, "Our gay Black men are being exterminated like animals."

"I loved him," said YB, who goes by that name. "I think it was unfair and nobody should ever have to leave that way. We know we are all going to leave, one day, but to be taken out. It makes no sense. He was only 27 years old. I want there to be justice."

YB said she'd known Davis for "over 15 years."

"I knew him through his sister," YB said. "He was wonderful. He was kind, funny and fun — he was a Leo like myself and he brought a light everywhere he went. The light brightened up any room he went into — changed it completely and made it so positive."

After the initial publication of this story, a spokesperson for Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao told the B.A.R., "Our office is in contact with the Oakland Police Department for updates on this case, which is currently under investigation. This is a tragic loss of life and our hearts go out to Devonte's family, friends and the entire LGBTQ+ community. Mayor Thao and our Oakland Police Department are committed to working each day to make sure all our communities are safe in our city."

The office declined to comment on the Marsh case last week. City Councilmember Kevin Jenkins, who represents the district where Davis was killed, has not responded to a request for comment.

Curtis Marsh was found fatally stabbed in his Oakland home March 4.  

Arrest in Marsh case
In the Marsh case, police last week arrested Sweven Waterman, 38, of Oakland. Marsh, 53, had been stabbed in his home March 4 in the Adams Point neighborhood near Lake Merritt, as the B.A.R. previously reported.

Police said that so far their investigation in the Marsh case shows no evidence of a hate crime.

Marsh, also known as drag artist Touri Monroe, was a hair stylist and a Miss Gay Oakland emeritus. Originally from Iowa, friends described him as fun, helpful, and active in his church. A memorial was held March 11 at the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center where friends remembered Marsh.

Waterman is on leave from his job as a custodian with UC Berkeley, according to a spokesperson. He remains in custody at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

As the latest homicide case is an ongoing investigation, anyone with information on the March 12 incident is asked to contact the Oakland police homicide section at 510-238-3821 or the tip line at 510-238-7950.

Updated, 3/16/23: This article has been updated with comments from OPD and Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao's office.

Updated, 3/17/23: This article has been updated with comments from a friend of Devonte Davis.

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