Wednesday night was a heart-wrenching ordeal for the family, friends and supporters of Troy Davis, who was executed by the state of Georgia. The 42-year-old black man was sentenced to death in 1991 for the murder of a white, off-duty police officer. Substantial doubt has surrounded the conviction ever since, and people ranging from former FBI director William Sessions to one of the original jurors begged Georgia’s Board of Pardons and Parole to stop the killing. It refused.
As hundreds gathered Wednesday night for a peaceful vigil outside of the Jackson, Ga., prison where Davis was to be executed, Davis’s legal team fought for his life right to the end. The U.S Supreme Court delayed the execution moments before it began, but a little more than three hours later it declined to issue a stay. The state killed Davis and pronounced him dead at 11:08 p.m. Davis’s last words were reportedly, “May God have mercy on your souls.”
(Clockwise from right) Surrounded by family and friends, Troy Davis’ sister Martina Davis-Correia (center) talks with media and those gathered at Towaliga County Line Baptist Church across from the prison before the execution; Davis-Correia sheds tears while talking to supporters and reporters; Solana Plains (right) escorts a distraught Elijah West, cousin of Troy Davis, out of the church. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images
As the evening wore on, people gathered outside the prison reported a growing an increasingly aggressive police presence. Cops gathered in full riot gear to great the peaceful protest, which featured prayer, songs and chants. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images
Protesters chant anti-death penalty slogans for Davis, hopeful he would receive a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court. Police confined the people gathered outside the prison for hours in a roped off area. They were not allowed to bring in food and were told if they left they’d not be allowed to re-enter, according to the news program “Democracy Now!” Stephen Morton/AP Photo
(Clockwise from right) Beatrice Craft (left) and Lynn Hopkins, a Unitarian minister and friend of Davis, hug after hearing news that the Supreme Court had delayed the execution. Many supporters, such as Lillie Sutton, fell to their knees and prayed that justices would save Davis’s life. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images
One supporter collapses to the ground crying, after hearing news about the delay. As news of the delay spread through the crowd just minutes after Davis had been scheduled to die, many of those gathered believed a miracle was coming. Davis’s life had been spared in the final hours on three previous occasions. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images
Supporters of Davis tweeted photos from the prison vigil. One of the photos passed along on Twitter came from Big Boi of Outkast, picturing a little boy with a sign reading “Am I Next?” (left). Big Boi, @BigBoi (Left, Top Middle). Jelani Cobb @jelani9 (Right, Bottom).
Vigils for Davis stretched from Washington, D.C., to Portland, Ore., and as far as Paris and London. Here are some photos that were tweeted. Wade McMullen, @wademcmullen, Protestors at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC (Left top, bottom). Natalie Asikainen, @Nataliea621, Portland, Oregon (Middle top). Kamau M. M., @KamauMandela, Howard University students protesting in front of the White House (Right Top).Amnesty France, @amnestyfrance, Paris (Middle Bottom). AI HackneyIslington, @amnestyihag, London (Bottom Right).
Unitarian minister Lynn Hopkins (left) consoles her spouse, Carolyn Bond, after hearing news around 10:30 p.m. that the U.S. Supreme Court had refused to grant a stay of the planned execution. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images
Monica Barrow (left) of California reacts to news of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision with other protestors outside the prison. BarrowJessica McGowan/Getty Images
Public Information Officer Kristen Stancil (center) announces the completion of the execution of Davis. He was pronounced dead at 11:08 p.m. In his final words, he repeated his innocence and asked God to bless the souls of the corrections officers charged with killing him. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images