Buffalo Police Officer Felisha Kenyon had a terrible eight weeks.
Her baby brother was shot to death May 27, she was fired by the city, and then she watched helplessly as her ex-husband, Officer Christopher Bridgett, was shot Sunday outside a Buffalo bar.
Kenyon said she doesn't think there's any connection between the three events.
Buffalo Police aren't saying anything about the motives in either shooting and won't comment on Kenyon's firing.
Kenyon said she and Bridgett, who she is dating again, decided two years ago to become police officers so they could support their 10-year-old daughter.
"At the time, I told him," she said, "we don't have anything to lose."
Now, feeling as though her life is in chaos, Kenyon says she is in search of answers about the tragedies surrounding her.
Kenyon's brother, Demonety Davis, 19, was shot and killed in broad daylight in the 100 block of Hirschbeck Street, just off Broadway. According to Davis' friends and family, he was a member of Team Wavey, a street gang from the Broadway area.
Davis' mother, Sarah Davis, says that although people in the streets may have been scared of her son, to her and her family, "he was just a baby." Davis was the youngest of eight siblings, in a two-parent, Catholic household. His mom, who acknowledges her son's involvement in a gang and in drug dealing and robberies, says she still wonders what made her son turn to the streets.
His family describes Demonety as goofy and adventurous, a lover of cartoons, an avid cook and a slight germophobe.
His mother says she never allowed guns in her home — or even let her children play with toy guns — but her son appeared in videos on Facebook, waving guns around.
Sarah Davis began encouraging Demonety to get out of the house and socialize with other kids when he was about 14, because he was a homebody.
"It seemed like as soon as I pushed him out the house, the streets sucked him in," said Davis, "I was trying to get him back for the rest of his life."
Kenyon says her relationship with her youngest brother began to strain when she became a police officer. She says the two often didn't see eye to eye, due to Demonety's lifestyle. Despite their differences, Kenyon says, she always defended her brother, who she believes was not cut out for the life he was living.
"What thug do you know that takes bubble baths?" Kenyon joked of her late brother.
Kenyon was called to the scene of her brother's slaying by a family member. Hysterical, she was allowed into the crime scene area by her co-workers on the police force.
Demonety's family said they think he was killed because of his gang activities.
No one has been charged in the homicide.
Kenyon is fired
Kenyon joined the force under the Buffalo Police Department 21st Century program, a scholarship that affords 20 weeks of police training at Erie Community College. The scholarship is aimed to promote the hiring of minorities, women and new immigrants.
Both Kenyon and Bridgett were hired in November 2016 when they began three months of field training as probationary police officers after graduating from six months of academy training. Kenyon's probation was extended by two months, however, due to a scheduled surgery she had.
Two weeks after her brother was killed, Kenyon was terminated by the police department June 14, after completing almost 19 months of her 20-month probationary period, Kenyon said.
Kenyon said an Internal Affairs lieutenant came to her home and told her, "I have to serve you with charges," but said he could not answer her questions. She said the lieutenant took her uniform and badge.
She says she was told to appear in a hearing the following day. When she arrived the next morning, she was met by the department's commissioner, who she said told her: "This is not a hearing, this is your termination."
She said she was shown computer screenshots of some of her social media posts at that time.
Kenyon says she was never served with official termination documents.
"I can't believe I can't be a police officer because of social media," Kenyon said. "What I posted on social media never affected my work."
Department officials declined to say why Kenyon was terminated, saying they don't discuss personnel matters as a matter of policy. According to a police official, the city is not required to give officers on probationary status a termination hearing or even a reason for dismissal.
Throughout her employment with the Buffalo Police, Kenyon said she had a number of encounters with the department's Internal Affairs division, which investigates alleged misconduct by police.
She said she was first reported to Internal Affairs after she posted on social media in December 2017 a photo of herself and her police partner, Officer Lawrence Muhammad, that was captioned "Happy Holidays."
The Buffalo Police social media policy prohibits officers from publishing without permission anything that identifies themselves as a member of the Buffalo Police Department and tends to discredit the department.
Kenyon says that she blurred the photo to hide their badges and uniform patch.
She said she was also called to the Internal Affairs unit in February, to testify about a case involving misconduct by another officer. At that time, Kenyon made a Snapchat post celebrating the fact that it was "[her] first time not being the target in IA," she says. The photo showed the door outside of the Internal Affairs office at the Buffalo Police Headquarters.
The department's social media policy also forbids publishing "photographs of police buildings, other than public areas inside or outside of the buildings, as well as any crime or accident scene."
Muhammad, who has been patrolling alone since Kenyon's termination, says he does not want to replace her with a new partner.
"There are people we helped and even people we arrested who still ask about her," he said. "She was the only one who could easily calm people down."
Kenyon still hopes to get her job back, but she said she does not know if she'll pursue legal action. She says that the work she did in the community means more to her than anything else about the job.
"Look at my brother's situation," she said, "I want my job back for people like that."
Kenyon and Bridgett were high school sweethearts who met over 15 years ago, according to Kenyon. They were married, but in 2011 got divorced. After spending seven years separated, they rekindled their relationship after Kenyon's brother was killed, partly due to the fact that they "were always working on it" and never lost contact with one another, says Kenyon. Bridgett is now her boyfriend.
Kenyon was with Bridgett when he was shot outside the Groove Lounge on Broadway just after 3:30 a.m. Sunday. Bridgett was off-duty at the time. The bar is located about 11 blocks from where Kenyon's brother was killed. Kenyon said she and Bridgett were leaving the club together, in different cars. Kenyon was supposed to follow Bridgett in her car. She noticed two men approaching Bridgett's parked car. Bridgett was shot twice, once in his right shoulder and once in his left abdomen.
Kenyon said she didn't see the shots fired, but she heard them and called 911.
A short time after the shooting, Adrian Lias of Buffalo and Reginald Hokes Jr., a Charlotte, N.C., resident and son of a retired Buffalo police officer, were taken into custody after police stopped their vehicle on Jefferson Avenue near William Street. A loaded .45-caliber handgun was found beneath the driver's seat. Lias and Hokes were placed under arrest at 7:35 a.m. at Buffalo Police headquarters, according to police reports.
Lias was charged with two counts of first-degree assault, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon. Hokes was charged with weapons possession.
Buffalo Police on Tuesday said investigators believe there was an altercation outside the club between Bridgett and Lias. Bridgett and a friend, Darnell Davis, walked away and got in a car. Lias went after them and fired eight shots, detectives said. Both Bridgett and Davis were wounded.
Kenyon said she remains confused about why Bridgett was shot. She says the she and her ex-husband had never seen the accused men prior to the incident and had no trouble with them at the lounge.
Michael Ray, who works security for the club, told The Buffalo News security footage from that night from inside the business does not show any interaction between Bridgett and the man accused of shooting him. Ray and Marica Alston, co-owner of the club, said the venue was closed for the night when the shooting happened.
The city ordered the Groove Lounge to immediately shut down Tuesday because of the shooting. Earlier this year the state Liquor Authority had initiated proceedings to cancel or revoke the business' liquor license, according to authority documents. A hearing on that was scheduled Wednesday.
Kenyon does not believe the shooting of Bridgett was related to her brother's death.
She said that dealing with the recent events has not been easy. "It's just so much all at once," she said.