Just a little over two years after white supremacists marched through the streets of Charlottesville, the final criminal court case opened as a result of the events that unfolded August 11-12, 2017, came to an end Tuesday evening.
Tyler Davis, 51, was sentenced to two years and one month in prison for his role in the assault of DeAndre Harris in the Market Street Parking Garage, despite pleas from his lawyers for Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Richard Moore to consider alternative punishments, citing his attempts to reconcile and his family’s dependence on him.
“My main goal is not what’s best for Mr. Davis,” Moore said when he delivered his verdict. “It’s not what’s best for his family. It’s about what’s right…If you consider all the impacts on families, no one would be punished.”
Davis entered an Alford plea February 8, admitting that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him of malicious wounding after he struck Harris on the head with a tire thumper while other Unite the Right protestors kicked and beat him on the ground. Born and raised in Lynchburg, Virginia, Davis, who had been living in Florida at the time of the rally, says he has since denounced white supremacy and dissolved his former allegiance to the League of the South.
“By lashing out at my perceived enemies, I was, without realizing it, lashing out at myself—I hated everyone,” Davis said during his lengthy remarks to the court. “I did a lot of damage, so this is an ongoing process that I will be working on for a long time, probably forever.”
The court determined that the blow Davis delivered was the most damaging to Harris, requiring eight staples in his head to mend. He was, however, given the lightest punishment of the four co-defendants because, Moore said, he only hit Harris once and wasn’t involved in the “group beating” that unfolded after Davis struck first.
Daniel Borden, who struck Harris three times with a large stick, was sentenced to three years and 10 months in January. Jacob Goodwin and Alex Ramos will serve prison sentences of eight and six years, respectively, in August 2018. Goodwin knocked Harris to the ground and Ramos sprinted into the garage to join him in hitting the African American man while he was down. Both Goodwin and Ramos have appealed their cases and are awaiting hearings in September.
Davis’ full sentence is for 10 years with seven years and two months suspended, and nine months credited to his time served for the three months he spent in jail and year that he submitted to electronic home monitoring. Davis was the only defendant in this case who was allowed out on bond; he was permitted to live at home with EHM in order to help take care of his now-19-year-old Autistic son.
Matthew Engle, Davis’ attorney, declined to comment after the verdict.
Joe Platania and Nina-Alice Antony from the commonwealth’s attorney’s office didn’t recommend a specific sentence, but both acknowledged that Davis deserved a lighter sentence than his co-defendants and recognized that he took ownership for his role in the attack.
Although the Charlottesville Police Department is still working to identify two other assailants from the attack, Platania and Antony hope the conclusion of these open criminal cases allows Charlottesville to gain a sense of finality and closure now that the trials are behind it.
“As prosecutors that did six of these cases…we tried to be careful not to make it about message,” Platania says. “We tried to look at the conduct of each individual and focus on each individual case and not prosecute ideology but prosecute conduct. Having said that, we are hopeful that those six prosecutions speak loud and clear about how this community and our office feels about individuals that come here from out of the area to perpetrate hateful acts of violence on others.”