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Slain New York City Councilman Reburied

Reinterment occurred after family learned his killer's ashes were in the same cemetery.

August 03, 2003|Thomas S. Mulligan | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — The body of slain City Councilman James Davis was dug up and moved Saturday after his family learned that his killer's ashes had been interred in the same cemetery.

Davis was buried last week at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn; his remains were moved to the Evergreen Cemetery, also in Brooklyn.

Othniel Askew, a political rival of Davis, fatally shot the 41-year-old councilman July 23 in the balcony of the City Council Chamber in City Hall in downtown Manhattan.

As city officials and onlookers dived for cover, a plainclothes police officer fired from the floor of the ceremonial chamber and killed Askew.

On Tuesday, the day of her son's burial in historic Green-Wood Cemetery, Thelma Davis read in a newspaper that Askew's remains already had been placed there in a family niche.

"She was upset," said Elroy Hill, a childhood friend of the councilman and director of the Brooklyn funeral home that handled the wake and funeral services for the slain councilman.

"If she had known that Askew's cremated remains were at Green-Wood, she never would have agreed to have her son buried there," Hill said.

At Mrs. Davis' insistence, the family obtained a reinterment permit from the city Health Department and on Saturday morning moved Davis' body to Evergreen Cemetery in the Bushwick section, about five miles away.

No more than 10 people -- mostly family members -- attended the reburial, Hill said.

By contrast, thousands of mourners lined up to pay their respects to the councilman last week during his wake in Brooklyn and while his body lay in state at City Hall.

Both Askew and Davis, a former police officer, were carrying handguns at the time of the shootings, but Davis never had a chance to draw his weapon.

The two men arrived at City Hall together and took advantage of a policy allowing City Council members and their guests to enter without passing through the metal detectors.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg ordered the policy rescinded immediately after the shootings.

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