Mark MacPhail was off-duty working security at a bus station on Aug. 19, 1989, and rushed to the aid of Larry Young, a homeless man that prosecutors say Davis was bashing with a handgun after asking him for a beer.
Troy Davis supporters in the U.S. and Europe were trying just about anything to spare him from lethal injection Wednesday evening for killing a Georgia policeman, a crime he and others have insisted for years that he did not commit.More >>
The state Pardons and Paroles Board said in a statement Wednesday it would not review its decision to allow the execution to go forward.More >>
By KATE BRUMBACK Associated Press
JACKSON, Ga. (AP) - From outside a Georgia prison to a public square in France, hundreds who believe an innocent man is about to be put to death congregated Wednesday to protest, knowing that Troy Davis had nearly run out of options to stop his imminent execution.
Davis' supporters include the well-known, such as the Rev. Al Sharpton, who was outside the prison in Jackson, home to Georgia's death row, where about 100 people had already gathered by midday for a rally. More protestors came as day turned to night.
"I feel a mixture of outrage and sadness, sadness because we may lose a life of someone who's not been proven to be guilty," Sharpton said.
Davis, 42, was to set to die at 7 p.m. for the 1989 slaying of Mark MacPhail, a Savannah officer killed while working off-duty as a security guard. MacPhail was rushing to help a homeless man being attacked when he was shot twice.
Davis has insisted he's innocent and his execution has been stopped three times since 2007. Still, the courts have repeatedly upheld his conviction. In the process, Davis has gained perhaps hundreds of thousands of supporters who hope the courts will stop what they believe is an injustice one more time.
Besides Sharpton, Davis' allies include former president Jimmy Carter, Jessie Jackson, rapper Big Boi, who has tweeted his support, and the pope.
Everyday people who are outraged also were standing by his side.
Rashaan Sharif, 62, lives in metro Atlanta and only recently heard about the case for the first time on the radio. When he found out Davis supporters would be rallying outside the prison in solidarity, he decided to join them.
"I took off from work and I'm losing a day's pay, but it's a worthy cause," he said. "It's definitely a worthy cause. People need to stand up for truth and justice."
In Paris, a crowd of about 150 people gathered at the Place de la Concorde and held signs bearing Davis' image.
"Everyone who looks a little bit at the case knows that there is too much doubt to execute him," said Nicolas Krameyer with Amnesty International, adding the decision by Georgia's pardons board to deny clemency was a "miscarriage of justice."
In Washington, D.C., dozens rallied outside the White House, many from historically black Howard University, in hopes of last-minute intervention from President Barack Obama. The president cannot pardon Davis, but he could delay the lethal injection by asking for a federal investigation into the case if warranted.
Protesters paused for a moment of silence, lifting their fists in the air and singing and cheering as at least a dozen at the rally were arrested.
"The fact that the White House hasn't addressed this issue is completely disrespectful," said Talibah Arnett, 20, a Howard junior.
Cassandra Bowler, 21, another Howard student said the protest was about more than Troy Davis.
"This fight is about the death penalty in the 21st century in America," Bowler said.
Not all outside the Jackson prison wanted the execution stopped.
Janet Reisenwitz has family members who are police officers, and she said she was surprised more like her didn't show up. She said she was there because "justice will be served tonight."
"They are grasping for straws and I would be too," the 55-year-old said of Davis supporters. "But all it does is delay justice and clog up the criminal justice system."
Associated Press writers Greg Bluestein in Jackson, Russ Bynum in Savannah, Eric Tucker in Washington, D.C., and Sohrab Monemi in Paris contributed to this report.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.