David Quinn served as a real life police officer in some of the most challenging neighborhoods in Atlanta. As a homicide detective he has witnessed everything from agonizing anguish, heartache, mental illness, to overwhelming redemption and joy.
Now as the co-host of the very. popular TV One show, ATL Homicide, he has found a way to use his wisdom to build a career outside law enforcement while still focusing on the intriguing stories that came for his years of experience as an officer of the law. He sits down with Kevin Ross for an intriguing Zoom chat about his career, Atlanta, police brutality, the show, his future, and much more.
Kevin: So tell me about, you became a cop. And how did you get into doing the homicide aspect? How long did it take you?
David: 15 years.
David: And I’ll tell you how that worked. I got sent right out of the Academy a year after being around you and the rest of those great people at that Marriott, Dan Morone random thing. But anyway, I go to Atlanta, I go to the police Academy. I get out of the Academy around the summer of 86. I hit the street and they sent me to Mechanicsville.
David: In Pittsburgh in the zone three sections.
David: And while I was there, I had, I was only, I was 21 years old when I got out, I formed so many alliances, they kept me out there for the first decade in the dark working the graveyard shift. I loved it! I was like this is it because I knew my community. I watched the crack thing happened, I did 15 years of that, I mean I’m sorry 10 years of that and then they sent me over to Bankhead for five.
Kevin: Oh my God!
David: And then I go to homicide and they made me detective, Vince is installed as a detective the same day, they sent both of us youngins to homicide. Now, mind you, I had worked these “marginalized” neighborhoods for 15 years. Everybody knew me and it was so going back out there now I’ve taken off the uniform, I’m wearing a suit it was beautiful. It was beautiful.
Kevin: So I’ve always wondered what it was like. I mean I have a fascination with these kinds of TV shows. First 48, Forensic Files, which actually watch to relax, which is really very bizarre.
Kevin: But Forensic Files is very therapeutic when I’m working.
David: I can dig it.
Kevin: But what is it like to walk into a scene where somebody has been murdered knowing that that is a moment in time that’s going to change everybody’s life around that person. I mean the first couple of times you did it, how did you handle that?
David: So in the neighborhood, I worked as a patrolman in uniform for years. I saw a lot of murder. And I always wanted to peek behind the curtain to see what happens with detectives when they have to interface with those families, with all that loss. When it was my turn, it was an overwhelming responsibility.
I can’t even go in there, I mean it was gut-wrenching because I always tried to keep it spiritual and find the mama, whoever raised him or her, and like connect with them.
Touch and agree this is wrong, here’s my cell phone number. Vince did the same thing, that way you don’t have to worry about ever answering a voicemail, you’re going to talk to me. And that created the legend of David and Vince. Investigative transparency, letting the family and that community in the homicide investigation. That’s what to me yielded all the success, but overwhelming grief.
David: I still feel today. But I feel honored to have, you know, taken on that grief with them.
Kevin: And what is it that we’re missing? When we watch TV, you know they make it look pretty simple, you know cut and dry. What is it that people you wish that they could also see or hear or grasp when it comes to those kinds of environments? What are we missing?
David: Wow. Personally, I have a dim view of where law enforcement is going right now, I can always speak for me. I think that with the advent of a more militarized, a, more well, a paramilitary police department presence. We’ve lost the connections, I think what people miss is the real relationships formed to work in these murders. You need all these people, that mother and I hate to say it, me and Vince over the years, we’ve gone back to the same house twice.
Kevin: Oh wow!
David: When another son or daughter has died. And then by the same token, when I think people miss is me and Vince had a relationship with the shooter or the accused.
Kevin: Oh wow!
David: Because unfortunately that mother was going to lose a son, a cousin a daughter, we’re going to see them again so. Everybody’s losing, that’s what the public miss, it’s not sides. Countless numbers of time, brother, we would go to court after it’s all said and done, it’s time to testify and you know put this case up. I found myself hugging and embracing the shooter’s family on one side of the courtroom and going over and dealing with the bereaved family. You know the family of the victim because, and people started understanding us. And I never saw anybody else in our unit doing that.
David: It was almost like blame the victim and that’s not across the board. I’m just saying a lot of the people that trained us or showed us the ropes, it was like a meat market. And I wanted it to be more spiritual and that’s why people talk to us. Most of these cases were made through confession.
Kevin: For your own sanity, aren’t you supposed to disconnect from the emotional concept of that?
David: I don’t know how you can do it. My phone rang, I have a very supportive wife who also was a police officer who didn’t give a damn that that’s what you wanted to do it 24/7, that’s on you. But you still got to pick up these kids from soccer, you got these clothes to fold and, Oh, you’re the scout leader. Your son is a sixth-grade boy scout troop. I’d never even been a boy scout. So that’s what kept it, the wife kept me straight because you’re losing if you’re not answering the phone at homicide. Is that thing may come, that lynch pin to your investigation might happen at three o’clock in the morning, you got to answer the phone. So I never disconnected, for the whole time I was always on. That was a delicate balance.
Kevin: So when you walk into an environment and like somebody has been murdered and especially when somebody’s young. What is the procedure like from your perspective versus what we see on TV? Of course they rarely show the body, but what is the first thing you look at, or you used to look at when you walked into an environment like that? What was your job right away?
David: I want to go over to my victim. You know that’s a serious time, I want to say a prayer for them. I don’t know what they were doing, whether or not they had a half a kilo of cocaine underneath their arm or whatever was going on at that time, or if they were just walking back to their car and killed. You got to show reverence for the dead that’s number 1. And you want to identify them, you want to know who they are, sometimes that’s not readily available. But my first thing, I want to look at my victim and I want to go from the victim out. Slow.
And the one thing me and Vince would do we would wait to everybody left. You know get everybody out of here, I want to be alone with this victim and figure and try to think this thing through. It’s the last time I’m going to see them, and I want to memorialize that moment by not rushing. You know sometimes we run scenes for 18 hours, 18 hours. Cause you’re looking at, everything, you have to go through every dresser drawer, all through the closet. You don’t know what you’re looking for, you know diving into the lives of the people that live with this person. And me and Vince came on in the year 2000, so it was the advent of technology, you know. So now you got to get into the brother’s and sister’s phone, reverence for the victim.
Kevin: What about the smell? How do you deal with?
David: The smell, it’s not right away. Now, if you get someone that’s been laid up, you know for the last 12 hours you may, you’re going to get the passage of time. You’re going to get some decomposition. But the one thing you don’t want to do is cover your mouth. You don’t want to put a mask on back in those days. You just wanted to, your olfactory, your smell, your senses, you just innate, you shut it down. You shut it down and do the work because the more you put, some people used to put a Vic SAB under their nose. That doesn’t work.
David: That just that intensifies that smell that no one has ever successfully explained what it’s like, decomposing flesh. It’s not a pleasant thing.
Kevin: Would you say that a majority of the cases that you dealt with involved with black people.
David: I’m in a chocolate city.
Kevin: Okay. So what go ahead.
David: I’ve only arrested, I arrested one white man working murder for 19 years.
Kevin: What is it that we are not aware of as a community, because sometimes when you’re on a job this long, you become somewhat of a statistician. You know you see enough of the same thing that you draw conclusions about the community. Perhaps that we don’t want to assess or address. What is it that you know that we don’t talk about enough?
David: We have a national health hazard in our community. We’re talking about black and brown people and that’s gun violence. Kev, I’m going to tell you man, gun violence. What the public doesn’t see, we just get the murder numbers. The number of individuals that receive serious gunshot wounds across this nation is staggering and survive. You couple that with the dead ones. October 20th of 2020, you know what? Just a few months back, my son had returned from the military a couple of years, he was working. He went to visit a friend over in East point Georgia. He was robbed for $200 and shot three times.
Kevin: Oh my God!
David: Twenty-six years old. Took one in the back, they shattered his forearm. He had to get a plate, he’s got screws all the way through his arm. And he was this close to being dead or paralyzed, but you know by the grace of God, he’s here. And I remember I showed up on you know, getting a frantic call from some lady on the scene that was going through his pocket and got his phone. I go to the scene. Everybody’s like, Oh, ATL Homicide is here. Here’s what’s interesting, I got horrible police service. Everybody in Metro Atlanta knows who I am.
And in this neighboring city, I got very horrible police service. It was only because their first notion was, well he must’ve been down there doing something he had no business, and they know who I am and I’m like anyway. We’ve got to call attention to that kind of BS in our communities. I’m in the process of rectifying a few things in that investigation, but I’m up here at grieving. My son has COVID going on, my son’s in the hospital. I can’t go in and you’re asking me was he buying drugs? He was a paratrooper in the United States Army, you know overseas jumping out of planes for the government.
And he gets gunned down, gun violence. He survived, so his story wasn’t even on the news cause he survived. Three times shot. We got our own pandemic and it’s with that lead, we got to address it because it’s got nothing to do with white people, the government or anything, it has to do with our community. You got to learn how to love each other again and we got to learn how to resolve our problems without this gun violence. A lot of people, they never make the stat list of the paralyzed, lose legs, are changed forever. My son is 26 now he’s using a cane. You know what I mean? So we got to deal with that, that’s our community. We got to hold the police departments feet to the fire to serve us correctly.
Kevin: Is that part of the reason why you retired early, or did you retire early? Cause you’re still relatively young.
David: I did 33 years.
David: I retired about a year and a half ago. And you know I actually stayed three extra years because they were paying a brother. You know, they wanted me to take a little contract after I got my full pension. I said let me go ahead and double dip this right quick, see what it feels like to make this kind of money.
But I worked harder than I ever worked because I was jumping from cubicle to cubicle as a seasoned vet, helping youngins, you know learn the craft. So it wore me out, I was done.
David: I didn’t have any more.
Kevin: So, how did you have the energy to? Cause I was reading someplace that you actually, you and your partner came up with the idea to do the TV show. How did that come about?
David: Well, what’s interesting, there was a producer we met years ago. He [inaudible 13:59] America’s Most Wanted episode. And he told me, he said, one day I want to do something with you. You know to make a long story short, I was on America’s Most Wanted. I actually ended up playing myself, which was something they never did.
I guess because a brother was crunk, you know and they just, you play yourself. So the producer, who’s now my executive producer of Wide Net productions that got all this started, 12 years later he’s like, I’m ready, you’re retired let’s do it. And he started shopping around sizzle reels of me and Vin interacting, just being who we are. We were turned down by eight or nine networks when TV One took a glimpse and they wanted us. And they wanted us to be us on their network.
David: We were so honored. It was crazy! All honor goes to TV One and that one producer that got that whole thing started, just from one chance encounter on a set from America’s Most Wanted.
Kevin: I always thought America’s Most Wanted was a way to, how I’m going to put this. To reframe our thinking about, especially in the black community about police. It was, there was, everything was always so nice. You know everything was always, looks scripted.
David: Yes, yes.
Kevin: Is that generally how it works?
Kevin: Like the other shows.
David: You know I’ve never, you know America’s Most Wanted was they definitely had a script. They do reenactments, so that was scripted. A lot of fun, I refused to read the lines. I said, I am the guy, so I’m just going to play me on that show. And that was like 2006. I think that the other networks that turned us down to answer your question, they wanted us to be something other than what we were. You know I remember one outfit before even we got our show get pitched, wanted me to go out to Nebraska something and hang out with a forensic technician and some kind of psychic.
I said, well that’s just not what I do, you know what I mean? TV One said we want what you two, you know riding together for 19 years, we want that on our network. And I think people can tell, see here’s the real test for us. It’s the people in the street, you know when they see it and we’re active on social media during the show while it’s airing. You know weeks after the show, folks, real people in the street, like Yo Quinn! You represented you and V, that’s just how y’all are. And that’s, that’s the biggest reward in this whole deal is the authenticity so.
Kevin: Was there ever a time that your life was in danger? Did you have situations where you have big problems like that?
David: Like I said earlier, I was in the street for, I grew up on the streets of Atlanta from age 21 to 31 until I went to homicide. I swear to you brother, any neighborhood I went to because I had worked so many years in the street, it was like going home, it was family reunion.
I just didn’t have those issues and see it’s another thing I never, when you see a detective works homicide and you can see his gun, he’s losing. You never saw our guns, we wore suits, we were suited and booted. We wouldn’t look like respectful to people because I always want to be ready if I was going to be giving the worst news to some family member for the rest of their life.
I’m not going there with no khakis on, with no golf shirt, sample, guns blazing looking tactical. I looked like I was going to preach, like I was headed to Mount Carmel or Big Bethel somewhere. That’s the persona we wanted to stay professional, you know look like I’m hanging out with the nation.
You know I wanted to look like I was about business all the time. And he says like why you guys wear dress up every day? No, because every day could be the worst day for some family. I don’t want to see no cartoon character showing up to their living room, breaking their hearts.
David: And so three o’clock in the morning, I’m getting, taking a shower, I’m getting suited up, going out.
Kevin: So you would actually go over people’s houses at three in the morning.
David: Oh yes, cause you know we were on call. You know the city gives you these free cars, so you know.
Kevin: No I’m saying when to break the news to the family.
David: Yes. Oh yes, yes you don’t wait. You don’t wait. You want to go ahead and let them get their grieving process going. I don’t want to be in a situation, where I give a phone call to somebody. You know I used to see guys in my office do that. You want to go there, you want to have the tears in your lapel.
You know those are your medals, you get that mother’s tears in your lapel. And I think keeping it spiritual, it didn’t weigh on me where I couldn’t sleep. Like I’ve seen so much stuff. I couldn’t even begin to explain to you what I’ve seen, but I just kept it open, kept it wide open. This isn’t my case, this belongs to the entire community.
Kevin: Any particular cases that you you’ll never forget? I mean, well I’m sure you won’t forget all of them, but I’m saying that anything that really sticks out?
David: Well, any case involving a small child and they’ve been murdered is brutal.
David: But I must say my very last case, it was actually assigned to me, not when I came back for three years, after doing 30 under contract. Most of my murders were kind of transactions: somebody wakes up and says, I’m going to get that money. Not that I’m going to kill somebody, I’m going to get that loot.
David: So enroute to the cheese, somebody has to die.
David: My last case brother, I had a serial killer.
Kevin: Oh wow!
David: I had never had someone that just wanted to kill to get the thrill. The feeling like when I finally, we captured him last season, I’m saying we depicted him on ATL homicide. His name is Ayman Presley, he was the killer. He killed four people in the space of like four months and he was getting gratification out of it. The interview I had with him, me and him in that room alone, and we showed it on the show.
Five and a half hours and he gave it up, he literally transferred all that evil to me. We were so close, I didn’t even like, I even moved the table. We sat next to each other because it took him a while to get it out, but he gave up all four bodies and you know we ended up getting the gun. That something I had never experienced on my way out the door, is my retirement year.
That brother chilled me and it’s one of the most, it’s the longest interview I’ve ever conducted. Five and a half hours, long time being in a room, no bathroom break.
You know eating Fritos and Cheetos and stuff with this brother. And I’m trying to show him, I had love for him. He had father figure issues and you know at the end of the interview, he wished I’d been his father. Oh, that was strange! And then I had you know there was the death penalty question, of course. And what shocked me was, I was against it in the final analysis and his time, because you know we have these, they want to get your opinion. And I just think it’s, and that’s a whole other subject, but I just think it’s, I think we’re first in line too much as a community black or brown.
David: I think we got to look at that. I have an issue with the death penalty, and I sat with his lawyers. I agree with them, you know he should never leave. But, I was against the death penalty, have been since then.
Kevin: So, then that means we have another problem in the black community, that’s mental health.
David: Yes, sir.
Kevin: Okay. Is that a majority of what you think you come across, I mean in the prison system? And as far as a lot of the cases that you come across, that there are a lot of unaddressed mental health issues that ultimately cause people not to care.
David: Yes. And I’m going to tell you from my, I’ve had people in my family that have suffered with mental illness, very close.
Kevin: I think we all have.
David: And I’m going to tell you brother what was told to me growing up, every time someone was mentally challenged in some way. We got this old wives tale in the black community, oh he went to the club when he was young, and somebody put something in his drink.
Kevin: Right, right.
David: I had a dollar for every time I heard that story growing up about a relative that was faced with those challenges, I’d be rich. You got to let that stuff go, it’s not nobody puts something in somebody’s drink. That’s just an old, that’s some old folklore we came up with because we’re ashamed of it.
David: I’ve had to take my relatives and sit down with them with these therapists, which is the most important part. It’s not the dope, everybody thinks it’s the dope that know gets people back. You know I’m talking about the medications they give you, that they give everyone. You’ve got to have aggressive, one-on-one therapy, it’s the most important component. And we as a community, I would love to get involved with that more because it’s touched so many of my family members on both sides. I mean you have at least one on each side and you know you don’t want them to fall into the homeless ranks, be out there in the street. We got to get honest about this; we don’t go get help.
Kevin: What is the takeaway that you want people to have from the show? What is the most important thing that you want to, for them to say, I learned this, or I got this, or I understand this now.
David: Respect. And that’s what the issue right now is with police departments across the country. You’ve got to win one neighborhood at a time.
Every time you step out of that car, you just got to win the neighborhood and you win that by being there before someone gets killed. You win that by being there before someone’s car gets stolen. I mean you got to be part of the community. I and even in the suit, I was always at the neighborhood store, just like I wasn’t I was in uniform. So I was furniture up in the hood. I was just and everybody didn’t have the kind of success that me and Vin had, it’s just the truth.
People, you know I knew more people than Vin because I’d been on the street longer. He’d been out in the world, you know the first, I had 10 more years than him because I had been it’s the only job ever had since the job I started with you. That’s the only other full-time job I ever had.
So if they see him with me, we were like one; people would get us confused for some reason, I don’t know why. He’s Puerto Rican, I’m a brother so, but a lot of times they get us confused. We gave people access to us; the worst thing a cop can ever do is to give a family member, a bereaved person in one of these situations, their desk phone number. Because they’ll call you, that family member, you come to work every day that light will be blinking on your phone with the missed call and the message.
You give a grieving mama, grandma, auntie your cell phone number, they never call you why? Because they have access to you anytime they want to and they trust and believe you, because the way you hugged them at that breaking of the bad news, they feel like they’re part of it.
We shut the black and Brown communities out of these investigations. We used to give up everything on the news, just give it up. We don’t know what it is, here it is, here’s what happened.
Kevin: Right. What do you think? I actually heard a preacher say once that you mentioned that you had a couple of situations where you went to somebody’s house twice. And he was saying that he knew a woman in Chicago who had all three of her sons were killed and they came back one, two, three times. And he couldn’t understand why she didn’t move.
Kevin: What is the, when people say that kind of stuff to you, how do you respond to that?
David: Yes, when I hear that because I was with the indigenous my whole career, I’m going to say most of my life. A dollar is hard to come by in America, you know people don’t understand it’s not easy to pick up and move. You living in some of the worst neighborhoods and still paying 500 a month.
David: I know some people that are just doing whatever they can just to make it. Hoping their rent man doesn’t get shut down by code enforcement. All this stress.
David: About shelter. there’s a lot of shelter stress out there. Why don’t they just move? They got to be there and gentrification in Atlanta, you know just like most cities is on steroids. And consequently we’ve got. Black and Brown folks living under bridges.
David: Which was something brother I never saw when we had the housing projects. You know that uncle was living in Big Momma apartment.
David: Over there you know in the bricks. Big Momma is not there anymore, they’ve moved everybody around.
Kevin: Yes, well, crack came and killed the concept of Big Momma, that’s what happened with that.
David: Yes. The Big Momma’s became the mommas, I watched that happen. That was a Renaissance period.
David: In our culture.
David: And they were raising that generation. They were raising those grandchildren.
David: They were hanging on. And you know, we can talk all day about the projects, projects, that was some of the safest places to be when I was coming along in law enforcement.
David: Nobody had a roof. It was safe, it was relatively speaking. I mean you had the dope trade.
David: They were shooting each other every night. But, during the day, you know older ladies were able to walk to the store with their little wheel cart and get their groceries and everything. And dope boys were helping them walk them back home. I mean I saw, I’m a witness to all of that.
Things got a little crazier at night and that’s when I usually come to work, and you know our community got left behind with this race to the top. You know trying to make everybody live together; we got left behind and a lot of these cities, mine, same with Atlanta included.
You know they left, when they put a new football stadium and they just don’t care. They’ll buy a church, and you know it’s been there a hundred years. They did that for the Falcon State and the Mercedes-Benz; they bought a church that been there a hundred years.
David: We’re killing these pillars. And Atlanta was a beautiful city when I first came here. With all the crime, it was bad, but it was a cultural icon to me.
Kevin: What year did you come there?
David: Well I came here in high school in 1978, 79.
Kevin: Atlanta was really nice, but that was actually Wayne Williams period wasn’t it?
David: Yes as a matter of fact, 81. Yes that’s when they finally locked him up. That’s all.
Kevin: Right, that’s when I came to Atlanta, 81 was the first time. Yes and it was very different, it was very.
David: I came from Wilmington Delaware to Atlanta.
David: But it was so big, it was so many people. It was so pedestrian lady.
Kevin: Southern charm, it was laid back.
Kevin: A lot of people hadn’t discovered it yet.
David: Remember five points when you go to work, and you come through there.
David: You come through the corridor.
Kevin: I mean, it was easy to find a job. It was amazing.
Kevin: And then at once everybody discovered it, cause I actually came back there a few years ago and I got the hell out of there. I had to come back to LA cause it had changed so much. You know I was looking for the old Atlanta and it was gone.
David: It’s pretty thirsty right now my brother .
David: It’s a shell of what it used to be. But on the other side of town, you know be North of 10th street, you know, things are booming.
Kevin: Oh yes.
David: We got high rises, you got more cranes out there in the skyline than you do buildings and clouds. You know what I mean? The cranes, they’re building, and we’ve been cut out. You know, I live in the South, I live on the South side. I live in Fayette County. Which is, I’m about 12, 15 miles South of the airport and I’m up in the woods. But my people in Atlanta got left out of the big deal.
Kevin: Yes. But Dave, I would think that with the way you talk and your passion for the profession, I would have thought that you would have stayed on board and maybe gotten, taken a bigger position. You know to sort of control the temperature of the force.
David: Some people are just soldiers, I was just a soldier.
David: I mean everybody wanted to fast track me, be a commander. And my wife was a supervisor, she was a Sergeant at a precinct. It was in my way, I really wanted, I was about service. I really wanted to serve, I figured out how to make these homicides go away, I figured out a formula. With my partner, we felt like we were doing really great work. And I couldn’t imagine being an administrator.
Kevin: Do you miss it?
David: Street leather. Not at all. So for me, it was an Elway moment you know, it was like having back-to-back Super bowls. You know you don’t go back on that, it was I’m realizing now that I’m retired, bro. That I did have a lot of stress and just didn’t know it. You’ve been able to wash all those years over you of human suffering.
David: You know, I’d be swerving not to his squirrels these days. You know I’ve seen so much death. I don’t even carry a gun unless I feel something in the air.
David: That’s not what I, I’m not strapped up going about my daily activities in my community, unless it’s in the dark, everything changes I don’t care where you live. But I’m not even strapped, and I had a gun on me from the time I was 21 years old until retirement. But I feel I’ve made that transition, I ain’t feeling that bad at all. This is not going back to a police department and they’ve called me a total of I think three times to come back because the murder rate is unprecedented right now. At the rate they’re going, last year’s numbers hadn’t been seen in two decades with the number of bodies. No, I’ve seen enough, you got to walk away.
Kevin: What do you think about the unrest with what the police departments around the country? The accusations that there’s a lot of racism going on. This is sort of blanket and I’m kind of playing, what’s the word I want to use? I’m acting like I don’t know, or I don’t understand, but I mean you do know, and you’ve been in there. It’s like are these things more prevalent than people think? Or you think it’s exaggerated at times?
David: It’s two sides of American justice, it’s two sides. There’s you know, was the more European side, then there’s the black and brown side. We don’t get consideration for having a bad day. A lot of us black and Brown folks, we die when we’re having a bad day.
David: The more European side is given the benefit of the doubt by law enforcement. In Atlanta and everywhere else it’s just, there’s a fear of people of color and we just have to address it. You know, January 6, it was kid glove time.
David: You can say they’re outnumbered, but I guarantee you.
Kevin: I know.
David: That had it been some brothers trying to storm.
David: The government.
Kevin: The White House would have been red.
David: A real bloodletting, it would change history.
David: We would have changed history because that first line of attack would have been decimated. And we don’t take time with our black mentally ill like we do our white mentally. I’m sorry, I’ve seen it, I’ve been there. I used to work police shootings, me and Vin, that was one of our duties. We worked police shootings before it was eventually taken over by the state boys because of the conflict of interest that the public saw. But you know in my day man, if you shot somebody without a gun.
Kevin: You know, you old, when you say that right?
David: In my day, if you shot somebody and they didn’t have a tool on him.
David: And you shot him, he was getting clowned at the office.
David: It was just, wasn’t how we did it. We use muttons yes.
David: You understand what I’m saying? And you might be going to Grady, but you ain’t going.
Kevin: You going to come out and be able to walk out of there yes.
David: Let me tell you something, all these shootouts back in zone three, which they called the war zone. Which is where I came up on the police department, they were shootouts. Somebody had a gun, they had an ax, they had something that was going to kill you, that’s how they died. And we didn’t kill everybody with a knife in their hand. I mean you know I’ve had a demented woman one time we, you know we just didn’t do it. It was like we had a little cowboy in us, we had a little, what they call piss and vinegar, which we only pulled those guns when it was time to shoot the same deadly force levied against you. The world has changed and I’m telling you why it’s changed, not that tear your ear off.
Kevin: It’s alright go ahead.
David: This last 15, 20 years, these kids haven’t been allowed to fight. In school, you go to juvenile, if you get into a fight you get arrested. You get suspended, you have to go to trial. So you’ve got a police officer out there who’s never been in a fist fight and you got a potential suspect or whoever’s going to jail never been in a fight. Neither one of them could fight; it’s these guns that resolves everything. I’m just not going buy because and we never used to say this thing brother, I was in fear of my life, I didn’t know what he had. Oh that, that was a non-starter, you had to see something, I’m sorry. And see, I lost a lot of colleagues, you know I’ve been to a lot of police funerals. This is the way we handle their business, you know we just didn’t. I don’t know. I love police and I’m just saddened by it’s just so easy to kill now, kill.
Kevin: Yes. Yes so what’s next for you? I mean outside of the TV show, which has done very well. It seems like you have more stuff, you still have enough energy to keep going.
David: Oh yes, yes I don’t want to lay around. This is my den here and made it into an office. I’ve been writing this book.
Kevin: Oh okay.
David: And I’ve got one more in me. I don’t even know if I can write, I’m just laying it down. You know I got all these laptops right here, I’ve been just laying it down. It’s a story, the first gang case ever made in the city that involved a series of murders and it really changed my life, working those cases. And I made it, I’m writing it into a book. I’m making it.
Kevin: Best seller.
David: We’ll see what happens.
Kevin: It’s a best seller.
David: I don’t know. I’m telling a raw, so I can only write it raw, it might be too much.
Kevin: So you’re [inaudible 38:02] in there.
David: I mean it’s really raw.
David: And it’s just, that’s what happened. And it’s about my relationship with an informant that helped topple this whole gang. He didn’t have a father, I was having issues with my son. They were the same age and now this is a crazy story, it’s a crazy story and I’m just laying it down.
Kevin: Isn’t that amazing how we leverage our youth? We can leverage our youth and basically turn it into something. I was talking to Frank Skee the other day or recently, and about how he did that song for Cardi B. And it was something he did like 30 years ago, and an attorney told him how to make sure nobody copied his music at the time.
Kevin: Had he not had those things not been ordered or had that not happened, then he wouldn’t have the payday that he had today. But it’s really interesting when you get into your fifties, you understand life, you finally get it. It’s like, Oh, that’s why that happened and that’s why that happened.
And all those things come to serve you in a sense. So it’s just like you writing this book, that’s going to help somebody else. And, you know ultimately you’re leveraging, I really admire anybody who does that. I mean even with pitching the show and telling the stories.
Kevin: From your perspective, seeing what was missing and how you could do it better.
Kevin: That’s a really great concept. And I think that you know, go ahead.
David: I didn’t mean to interrupt you what we want, and this is our third season. This is important, we want police to see how it can be done differently. I’ve never seen what we do on TV before, I just haven’t.
David: And so there’s a way to connect with the public where people don’t feel like they’re snitching.
David: There’s a way to connect with the community and people don’t feel like, you know I’m a lane because. I should go ahead and do the life with this joker, who I knew it was going to kill somebody while I was in the car. You can’t just go in and ask somebody to tell on their buddy, or why do both of y’all need to do life, never coming home to your, too old to know who you are. You know how long it takes to convince a young man or young lady, lot of young ladies had to be convinced. You didn’t know he was going to kill somebody at the Piggly wiggly that day. You know what I mean? Why should you do life? And so a lot of times we hold it, I’m sorry I got, I got workers, some contractors.
Kevin: That’s alright.
David: But anyway, I said, why should you not raise your child and take a chance on this attorney that you think is going to save your life? Because bruh, they pay the same five attorneys 50 grand a murder case just to get convicted and the same people get the same attorneys.
It is a hell of a business model, but we only see the same, well for the big ones we only see the same ones. And if you look at the evidence, why take that chance? You know me, I never shut up, when I get in the witness stand I’m at home. It’s like I’m in a jacuzzi, I can’t wait to win that jury. And I’m an expert me and Vin both at bringing the truth to a jury so they understand it. You take that chance why do that time?
Kevin: So you think, what do you think that causes that? Cause I was thinking about that the other day with Ben Crump. It’s like he’s been popping up a lot lately in all these different cases.
David: A lot.
Kevin: What do you think? I fail to understand, do you feel that we actually do care about winning? Or do you see more of a concept of I don’t care what happens, I just you know,
David: I mean, you have a lot of people, somebody tells them this is the guy that gives you your only opportunity. And everybody just believes it. What Ben is doing it’s more of the civil level, you know Ben’s getting paid. I mean God bless the brother, do what you do, be an advocate for the people, I don’t have an issue with it. . He’s doing some necessary work out there, but he’s the only face and everybody’s going to use him because we like the word-of-mouth sell. And that’s I see, we used to see the same attorneys.
David: And everybody picks them.
Kevin: And you were saying they would lose?
David: Lose! We didn’t and me and Vin didn’t lose any cases. I think in out of hundreds of murders, I’ve lost two at trial, you know a lot of technical issues. I mean I was really afraid to lock up the wrong person. I struggled and agonized, just like Vin did. We used to sit up at a bar and like, yo man, I don’t know. We don’t know, we can’t lock him up, you know, we got to both field this is a hundred percent. It can’t be 90. I know people lock folks up and they were 90% sure; I used to have this thing with photographic lineups, which is very controversial. But I know people to get warrants when they ask the person, does this look like the person that shot your friend and killed him?
I’m about 90% sure and they get the, under the law it’s legal, you get the arrest warrant. Because they say, when you go to trial, they have to do what identification in open court. They got to tell me 100% that’s the one I saw do it, that was just our mantra. We didn’t never do 85’s. I mean cause the law will let you do that because it is probable cause. Many things happen when the trial starts, it starts going a hundred miles an hour as soon as that white deer and that jury is sworn in and people just come in and putting people out, because they trying to get out of the courtroom.
David: Take their $25 and go home, if it’s still $25.
Kevin: They’ll get their Popeye’s chicken sandwiches and just.
Kevin: Go relax. What do you think of some of the other shows I’ve noticed that when they do interrogations, it seems that they hold the person for a really long time. And so it’s mostly always black people, black men especially. Hold them for a really long time and they come across with this fake sympathy. Like I know you feel bad about the situation, I know that your heart is hurting and then they pull the chair up and it seems so phony. But, I mean, these are actual cases cause they have a camera there, so it’s not scripted. And then, I’m thinking to myself, are they giving away too much information? Because it appears that if the person doesn’t admit it during the interrogation, that they can’t actually charge them.
David: Well, here’s the deal, everybody feels like they have a shot until it’s their turn. When you get in that room, they call it the box, interview and interrogation room, that’s a scary place. And you know the age range for the people that go in there is like from 16 to 25, that’s it.
And a lot of scary things can happen in there and the law allows cops to do a lot of tricky stuff. We are heartstring guys, you know me and Vin, and we rarely did interviews together cause it was just too much energy. A lot of people will notice that in this show, one we’ll go outside and view from the monitor.
First of all, I’m just way too gregarious to share that moment, it’s too big. And it may overwhelm somebody cause Vinny’s personality is different from mine.
We always felt like we’re going to overwhelm them and we in the car on the way down whoever that person gravitated to let them have a conversation with them. That’s who was going to do the interview. We let the guy, the girl pick who is going in the room with them and by the time we got back to the station, we already knew. We didn’t have to say anything; well like Vin, he’s feeling you man, you know, whatever. And I’m going to sit back, I’ll text you, I’ll be watching, you know and show you what I see from the box.
So all the egos in homicide and two guys in the same room sometime it can look like you’re jumping on somebody., but you’re allowed to lie to them, you are allowed to lie. I’m not going to sit up here and say, I haven’t lied to somebody before. But as I got older, I didn’t like it in court saying, well you lied to my client.
So. I would just go to church on them, that was my method. I’m going to bring up your mother, how’d you get raised. You know you didn’t kill this woman’s son, this woman’s daughter, this is awful stuff. And what people, a lot of things the public.
Kevin: I can’t hear you go ahead.
David: It’s something the public doesn’t understand. It’s hard for some people to sleep at night after they’ve killed someone, because they keep seeing them and I didn’t know that for like 10 years.
Kevin: Really? Is that what most of them tell you?
David: I started finding out in my Twilight years working murder. Once I got really close to these people, and cause sometimes you’re with them for several hours. Cause processing takes a long time after the fact and they start talking to you. Now when they go to trial, they going to say was coercion, you know you trick the film.
But I taped, we taped every time we did a bathroom break, sometimes I’ve taken people down to the weight room we did some bench presses. Yes, yes, those that got ankle chains on I’m good.
David: You know always order whatever they ask to eat, we eat together. We say our grace, things like that, people want to get it off their chest. Now, by the time it goes to trial a year later, that wasn’t me, I wasn’t there, and you know, but it’s all on video. It’s like they, this is the one thing that happens every time you finish an interview, folks go to sleep. He just gave up a murder, now he can sleep. And then it started coming, I was so ignorant to this.
Kevin: A peace of mind?
David: I think so. I was so ignorant to this and some older guy told me, he said I just want to be able to sleep. And I was like damn! Cause everybody’s not cold, cause like I said, they don’t wake up saying I’m going to kill somebody. And then wake up saying I’m going to get some money and it turns into that.
Kevin: But you have also come across the kind of people who can sleep?
David: Oh yes. There’s a lot of them cause it’s just business.
David: And that’s scary, you know, it’s just business. You got to go because he owes me, he shorted me on half a bird you know what I mean? Half a kilo, I mean, it’s crazy, but there’s some folks out there they believe in them codes because they grew up in the game. Oh yes its nothing to them.
Kevin: Have you, what was the most ridiculous homicide you ever came across, where somebody was killed for something, for the stupidest reason?
David: I’ve had some, he stepped on my foot homicides. I’ve had some, Oh, God I’ve had just that sudden rage over nothing, because somebody said something to me at the club. And these people, they don’t realize, I used to say, I guess I coined this phrase I guess about seven or eight years ago. These jokers out here playing Vice City. They lay up in their grandmother’s house all day or their momma’s house playing these video games, they’re killing people all day long.
Kevin: Yes, yes.
David: I didn’t even, I was on a crime scene where somebody was dead and what was playing on the TV was that Grand Theft Auto, those video games. I hate to be giving up the names of these things, but those really violent video games. I’d never seen it before, and I’m looking at this, so this is what everybody’s doing?
They’re sitting around playing these games and now they transitioned out to the street. They’ve got a nine-millimeter in their waistband and they’re going to the store to play a number or whatever. It just seems so easy.
Kevin: Since the pandemic has kicked in, I mean I know some of the clubs are still open in Atlanta, right?
David: Atlanta is wide open, the strip clubs.
David: You know doing two for ones, I mean they’re getting it in. I had COVID and I’m just recovering; I had the kind of kills you. I had COVID with pneumonia.
Kevin: Oh Wow!
David: Of January this year, January the second.
David: The third.
Kevin: Oh, that’s this year.
David: Yes I did.
Kevin: Okay. Yes.
David: It just happened. I’m three weeks away from the pearly gates man. It was for real, I don’t know how I got it I mean who knows? I could have got it off a gas pump, I don’t know, I don’t know. So something I did on my own, I don’t know. Cause I haven’t been around anybody, like I said I live way up in the woods.
But my wife looked at me and she’s like, you ain’t right joker and she loaded me up, took me to the hospital. I was there five days, I had five infusions of Remdesivir and steroids. You name it, they saved my life. This COVID is a hundred percent real, the only thing they told me, these are my doctors. The only thing to save you was you’re physically fit that’s what they said to me.
They said we got people down the hall that are really struggling because of their size. And they were just being frank with me because I could not move air, for the first time in my life. I’ve never been in the hospital my entire life. I’m 56, I’ve never been hospitalized, never spent the night in the hospital.
And that day on January 3rd, I could not finish a sentence. And I was like why am I like this? What’s going on? And I started getting foggy, old lady, took me drop me off at the spot and they took care of business.
Kevin: Let me tell you something. I was talking to friend of mine the other day, I don’t think there’s any hard and fast rules. Because I have a distant relative, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, waist close to 500 pounds, COVID went right through.
David: See what I’m saying?
Kevin: So when they say.
David: They felt it.
Kevin: Yes, when they say that you have, if you’re old or if you’re there, I mean there’s no hard and fast rules. I’ve heard doctors say that they had 97-year old’s in one room getting past COVID and a 17-year-old dying from it in another room.
David: I mean it’s about your immune system.
David: And with me, mine must’ve been weakened in some way. The pneumonia, the viral pneumonia it just went to work on me, it was like double duty. And your lungs started filling up with fluid, you ain’t getting out of it. You might not get out of that one. And but they got aggressive, I remember I was in there and he had me in the labor and delivery. I was in labor and delivery because there were no other beds.
David: I’m in a birthing suite, and one of the nurses, took the mask off me the second day. Cause I had a cannular going, I was getting oxygen for five days and she said well I don’t want to mess up your cannular, take off the mask. When she sees me she’s like, I’m a big fan of the show! Boom, boom, boom.
You know so we kick it off, she watches ATL Homicides got her husband watching it. And she became, she made herself my full-time nurse. She kicked all the other girls out the way she took really great care of me.
Kevin: And you have no idea how it happened. Was there like a time that you walked around with no mask on?
David: I don’t know, I wore the mask in the store. I didn’t wear the gloves.
Kevin: Do you think it might’ve been like a hand washing thing or?
David: It could have been, it could have been. I mean maybe, I mean cause I had done so well, I stopped going to the gym months ago.
David: And I was just doing power walks on a nature trail. So I don’t know how it crept in, I don’t know. It was nothing.
David: Haphazard or Crazy I was doing. I wasn’t down at Magic City.
David: So I don’t know, but so.
Kevin: I mean so with the pandemic, I mean and Atlanta still being open, are you still seeing a lot of negative activity at the clubs? I mean, like a lot of violence even now?
David: Yes, there’s been an uptick. The violence is crazy here now; people getting shot for little or nothing. Tons and tons of car jackings left and right, but again we’re metropolitan, so I’m way outside.
You know if you want to go down there at night and I have a daughter that works downtown, just came out of college and so she’s working down there. I said you need to get home before dark until they figure this out. Right now Atlanta, the administration has lost the police and so therefore the police aren’t as visible because they don’t like the mayor. I don’t have a problem with Keisha Lance Bottoms, but the police are upset with her.
And right now, the only way you keep crime down is being proactive, being out there. Like I said, when I first started my car be right in front of the bodega all night long.
You want to guess this is before cell phones. You knew I was in the middle of the madness where the dice game was going on, that’s where I was. That kept people from shooting each other at the dice game. And after a while, they said Quinn you want to play? I mean it was like that because I was so connected to community. They got to win these neighborhoods.
Kevin: But is that possible where they assign the wrong police officers to these neighborhoods?
Kevin: Cause we’ve heard that a lot of times too, that usually the rookies go into the black neighborhoods is that true?
David: Yes, you’re going to go in there. I mean most of the neighborhoods are black neighborhoods. You have your gentrified areas, which are in transition.
You’ve got somebody paying $7 a month for rent and just 50 feet away, somebody’s got a condo that costs 750,000. So we’re right there, that’s what Atlanta is. So, as far as picking who goes to the neighborhood, that’s something we never had to really worry about. I guess they have to start considering it now, because no matter where you were from back in the day in the eighties, it was almost as if the seasoned officers showed you how to operate there.
I don’t know if that’s going on. The seasoned guy told me the tone and tenor of the neighborhood I was being assigned to. All right, here’s how this goes. Boom! That’s the gambling house all right. They run every night from 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM. Everybody over there is cooled they’re not bothering anybody, let them do what they do.
Kevin: You had a mentor?
Kevin: A [inaudible 57:23] yes.
David: And so the next guy, after that guy moves on and gets promoted. Now I’ve been there five years dripped in this stuff, now I’m doing it to this guy. See this generation doesn’t really listen to anybody that’s their contemporary, it’s got to be somebody that’s above them.
When in fact the real street cop, because they cycle some of these cops out so fast, they don’t let them become part of the neighborhood. Nobody’s going to work a beat for 10 years like me; a decade riding the same neighborhood that’s gone, that’ll never happen again. But that was the standard when I came on, you hit the beat car a decade before you started moving up, you know getting upperly mobile transitions like detective or going to the SWAT team. You did no more than 10 years, that’s over.
Kevin: Do you think there should be more scrutiny when choosing police officers in the whole process?
David: Yes, but they’re just trying to get heartbeats now; they’ve dropped, they don’t even check for weed anymore because you can’t beat him, let them do what they want to do.
They just, they trying to get people on the streets. So many have quit with the necessary civil unrest we had this summer. A lot of these cops, they’ve left, and they’ve gone to the more rural departments or they’ve given up more enforcement altogether.
David: They can win this city back with the right chief appointment. If Keisha Lance Bottoms hires a Rockstar for national profile, wants to come to chocolate city and fix it, they’ll follow, it’ll be a Pied Piper thing.
But right now they got an interim, you know what does that mean? You’re not going to make this guy the chief, you know what’s going on here? Richard Pennington, when he came back in 2002, he changed us in so many ways. I mean they’re still walking around in his pajamas.
I mean, he was so innovative, so next level, they’ve got to find another Richard Pennington. He’ll change the whole culture, cause right now they’re adrift. The morale is unbelievably low and everybody’s looking for a new job.
Kevin: Sounds like you left right on time.
David: I got right out. And I actually left six months earlier than the contract I’d signed up for. I said I’m done, you know I was done.
Kevin: How did you discover when you said that you realize now that you were under a lot more stress than you thought? How did you discover that? Just from the feeling of freedom?
David: My blood pressure is going down considerably.
David: I’m not, cause I have hypertension, but it’s just different now, I had so many cases in my wheelhouse up here, so much going on. I had prostitutes and grandmothers calling me constantly with information. You know what I mean? It was so much volume, then I had my home life, and I was raising six kids in this house.
Kevin: Oh wow!
David: So we had a lot, I got four grandchildren now. I had so much going on, all crime for the most part, because I didn’t have a, I didn’t bowl, I didn’t shoot any pool. I didn’t have a hobby because.
Kevin: You didn’t have the time.
David: With all the volume of work, I had to be here with my family. My wife was serious, you’re going to be here at dinner, and I come to dinner and check the grades at the table and all that. And I might be back out at midnight when they go to sleep. But she said you going to be here when they’re here and, you know that’s how we rocked it.
Kevin: Okay. Yes that makes sense. I can see why you don’t miss it. Well, David, it’s been great talking to you and I absolutely look forward to your book. Like I said, it’s a best seller and if you don’t believe me, then that’s fine.
David: I’ll take that.
Kevin: But if it is the best seller, then my commission is 10% for my prediction.
David: I know that.
Kevin: But it’s good to see that you achieved your goal and that you like I said, you talked about being a cop, I mean.
David: Well if you remember me.
Kevin: I do. I remember you very well. I remember you very well because you’re quiet and I know you and Darvey were like the only two that work together. I always you or you and him were very good friends. I didn’t see a lot of other guys with those white jackets.
David: He was crazy about that. I thought he, Darvey was a street dude.
David: And he told me a lot of things about what I was getting ready to get into cause I would talk to him about it. He’s from Atlanta.
David: And I saw him one time on a call, something innocuous, nothing serious. And I just was, so it was like five years into my career. And we hugged, I just really Darvey was a down brother and he’s older than me. He just told me a lot of things and I use that, you know about three months later when I became the cops.
Kevin: He just became my Facebook friend very recently. Maybe about two weeks ago.
David: Man, I want to connect with him man.
Kevin: Yes I’ll do that and send me Hernando stuff. I want to talk to Hernando.
David: I will do that. I’ll send you his Instagram, I don’t think he’s on Facebook.
Kevin: Okay, okay.
David: Cause I saw him about some months ago. He’s still the same, he ain’t changed.
Kevin: Yes, good.
David: Flamboyant as well.
David: Still doing his thing.
Kevin: He still got dogs?
David: Yes, I think another [inaudible 1:02:38] ,
Kevin: I love [inaudible 1:02:39]. That’s all I’ve ever had.
David: That was his dog back in the eighties.
Kevin: Yes, and you can’t find them here, they’re not in LA. You cannot, I have to go to Macon to actually have to fly into Macon to get my dog or have now I’m going to have them fly to me. But I’m going to have to wait for a while, until everything calms down because I got a friend that just got on a plane and got COVID. You know so I’m not trying to do any planes, I’m not.
David: Me too man , whatever you do man, I do the two now.
Kevin: I’d take, I told a friend of mine, I wear a mask in the shower.
David: I feel you.
Kevin: I wear a mask, walking around the house. I mean this right now, it’s like very rare, but I mean it’s. And I got neighbors who talk in front of their house and they’re right next to my door and they don’t have mask on.
Kevin: So you still see people in LA walking around with no mask. And I mean this is like ground zero so.
Kevin: You know it is what it is but.
David: They safe.
Kevin: But it’s good talking to you and definitely keep in touch, keep me posted on your book. I definitely want to read it. I have actually I’m finishing a book myself.
David: Absolutely cool, I want that.
David: We’ll exchange books.
Kevin: Okay, cool. All right, take good care of yourself.
David: Keep it all social man, I want to stay up with you brother, and I really appreciate you. This is an awesome interview.
Kevin: Absolutely. I’ll put you, I got your email, so I’ll go ahead and you on Facebook?
David: I’m on Facebook.
Kevin: I’ll hit you up on Facebook. All right, bro. Take care.
David: Alright brother peace, peace out man .