Pelham forever honors Philip Davis

Published 5:22 pm Tuesday, May 17, 2011

(L-R) Amy Davis, sister-in-law of slain Pelham police offier Philip Davis; state Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin; state Rep. April Weaver; Paula Davis, wife of Philip Davis; state Sen. Cam Ward and Pelham Mayor Don Murphy present the Davis family with a proclamation renaming a portion of I-65 after Philip Davis. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

When Paula Davis commutes to and from work on Interstate 65 each day, she will pass a sign dedicated to the memory of the man she loved who gave his life while serving on the same stretch of highway.

Paula Davis, who is the widow of slain Pelham police officer Philip Davis, fought back tears May 16 as several Pelham and state officials presented she and she family with a proclamation naming I-65 between the Jefferson-Shelby County line to exit 234 the Philip M. Davis Memorial Highway.

“It’s going to be great to go down the interstate every morning and know Philip will never be forgotten,” Paula Davis said. “It’s just another attribute to what a great man he was.”

Philip Davis was shot and killed by Kimberly resident Bart Johnson on the same stretch of road during a December 2009 traffic stop.

During the May 16 presentation, which took place during a Pelham City Council meeting, Paula Davis said she had already forgiven her husband’s killer.

“We’ve got to pray for his (Johnson’s) soul just like everyone else,” Paula Davis said, noting Johnson is facing the death penalty and is scheduled to be sentenced in June.

“We’ve got one final step to go through. We should all band together and bring this to a final close and show Philip one last time that we support him,” Paula Davis added.

Pelham Council President Mike Dickens said he was “humbled” when he saw Paula Davis express feelings of sympathy for the Johnson family after the trial.

“When I saw you on TV talking about forgiving the other family, I was so humbled by it,” Dickens said to Paula Davis. “I was so blessed by it. I am in awe.”

Philip Davis’ sister-in-law, Amy Davis, thanked the Pelham community for helping Paula Davis and her two young children make it through the months after the murder.

“I wanted to thank everyone here for taking care of Paula and her kids,” said Amy Davis, who lives in Ohio. “You have all been good neighbors to her. You don’t see that too often.”

Pelham Mayor Don Murphy, who spent several days witnessing Johnson’s trial, said the process was a “gut-wrenching” experience, and but said he was pleased with the outcome.

“It was tough on both families. It was still a very trying ordeal, but justice prevailed,” Murphy said. “We do honor a hero tonight. I can’t think of a better way to do that.”