As a young kid growing up on Goodyear Avenue, Brian Davis never imagined himself as a hero.
That type of thinking just wasn’t allowed, not in a home where discipline, hard work and humility were the underpinnings of life.
And yet, heroic is exactly how the East Side native-turned- police officer reacted when a shotgun-toting man entered the 6th Precinct in Detroit and started shooting.
“If Brian hadn’t been there, people would have died,” said his uncle, Rochester Davis Jr. of Buffalo. “We look at Brian as a hero, but he doesn’t see it that way.”
Davis, who grew up here and still has family here, wasn’t even supposed to be working on that Sunday three weeks ago. He had come in to finish some paperwork and was sitting at his desk when Lamar Moore, 38, jumped over the front desk and opened fire.
Davis, 46, grabbed another officer’s gun and, with the help of others, fought off Moore, who was eventually killed in the shootout.
That Davis was there and, even more importantly, the fact that he reacted without thinking of his own safety, is no surprise to anyone who knew the boy who hung out at GiGi’s, the restaurant on East Ferry Street owned by his aunt and uncle. He and his mother left Buffalo for Detroit when he was 14.
Davis, who was shot three times, at one point stared down the barrel of a 20-gauge shotgun as Moore stood 3 feet away.
“He’s doing good,” said Rochester Davis Jr. “A lot of people think he was lucky. We feel he was blessed.”
In his first public comments after the shooting, Davis, who heads the 6th Precinct, vowed that the incident would not end the “camaraderie and solidarity” of the officers.
“We will not allow a lone gunman to interrupt that,” Davis told a crowd at a Detroit City Hall ceremony Thursday honoring him and three others. “We are going to get out there and do our jobs.”
Davis, who was shot in the hand while trying to use his gun, still had bandages on his fingers when he appeared with Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, a former NBA and Syracuse University basketball star. Bullet fragments also damaged the tissue surrounding his spine.
“I am really trying not to cry now, but this has really been incredible,” Davis said as he stood with Bing and Police Chief Ralph Godbee. A few minutes later, Davis’ new wife, Tamika, also a police officer, joined him on stage and, after hugging him, wiped away his tears.
At that same ceremony, Godbee recalled with emotion how he had persuaded Davis not to retire last fall and wondered aloud what would have happened if he had.
“Arguably if Commander Brian Davis had not done what he did,” Godbee said, “we very well would have buried a lot of people.”