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Autopsy finds no cause of death for Wardel Davis, as rally protests Buffalo police

About 70 protestors gathered Thursday night in front of Buffalo's B District Police Station  at Main and Tupper streets to voice concerns over the death of Wardel "Meech" Davis. The 20-year-old man died Tuesday night while in police custody.

While police cars with flashing lights could be seen in the distance, cutting off most access to the protest site at Main and Tupper, few police were visible, even in front of the district station. Traffic control and monitoring came from the yellow jackets of Buffalo Peacemakers.

There is deep anger as Buffalo joins the list of places where a young black man was killed in police custody, even if one of the officers involved in the incident on Hoyt Street is black. Both officers are on paid suspension while the incident is investigated by the police Internal Affairs unit and the state Attorney General's Office.

Dakota Sanchez said police harass people in Davis' neighborhood.

"These cops need to be prosecuted," she said. "They don't need to be sitting on their couch getting paid. No, they need more done to them because this is not the first time they'd harassed my brother."

An autopsy on Davis did not find the cause of death so there will be more tests. Determination of the cause of death is probably weeks away.

Davis' girlfriend, Jashalyn Washington, said Davis planned to go to a hospital later that Tuesday to have a bad cold checked out. She said he was expecting to be sent to jail during a court appearance on Wednesday and wanted to be treated before jail. Washington said she wanted Davis medicated before his court appearance.

"They're not going to take care of my baby in there," she said. "They're not going to give him the help he needed in there, if he needed any type of medication. They're not going to give it to him in jail. When did they take care of anybody in jail?"

Davis was said to have breathing problems before his death.

Washington said she was taken to Buffalo Police headquarters Thursday for three hours of questioning about what happened by police Internal Affairs and representatives of the state Attorney General's Office.

Former Buffalo Police Officer Cariol Horne also was at the protest, eight years after being fired for trying to stop another officer from beating a suspect. The 19-year police veteran said officers are not properly trained to handle confrontations.

"Approximately one week of hand-to-hand combat training in the academy and that's it, period, through the whole process of being a police officer," she said. "So officers don't know how to handle these situations correctly and that's why we have people who are dying at the hands of police officers. That definitely is not right."

The police officer she tried to stop subsequently pleaded guilty in another case to roughing up some teens - a misdemeanor. Retired Lt. Gregory Kwiatkowski agreed to testify against those other officers.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.