Family of Donell Davis say he was a good father who made a horrible mistake when he fled a traffic stop and later crashed after a police chase — killing his daughter, 2-year-old Danyla Owens.
“I know what’s in his heart,” his grandmother, Gloria Allen, said after his bond hearing Wednesday on felony counts of reckless homicide, reckless driving and unlawful use of a weapon. “He made a mistake.”
About 8:45 p.m. Sunday, a police officer in an unmarked car tried to pull over Davis when they saw him driving a 1999 Chrysler the wrong way on a one-way section of 103rd Street, Cook County prosecutors said Wednesday during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building. Davis initially appeared to pull over, but then drove off and headed south on Michigan Avenue. Davis weaved through traffic and blew through several traffic lights and stop signs before the crash with the Acura, prosecutors said.
Authorities said Danyla was riding unsecured in the back seat when the car collided with a 2002 Acura at 107th and Calumet Avenue.
After the initial collision, the car careened into a fire hydrant and light pole with such force that the car was split in half.
Danyla was thrown from the vehicle and into the street, prosecutors said. Officers performed CPR on the toddler and rushed her to Roseland Hospital in a squad car, but she was pronounced dead of her injuries shortly after arriving. Two people in the Acura were hurt and had to be taken to a hospital for treatment, prosecutors said.
Investigators allegedly found a loaded Glock 9-mm handgun with an extended magazine that contained 28 rounds in the Chrysler.
Davis, of Roseland, was out on bond in a felony drug possession case at the time of the crash, prosecutors said.
Judge Michael Clancy set Davis’ bail at $100,000 on the new charges and ordered him held without bail in the drug case ahead of his next hearing on Friday.
Six women attended Davis’ hearing, including the mother of Danyla, who is also pregnant with Davis’ son.
Allen said Davis’ mother was killed in a crash in 2008 and his 16-year-old brother was killed three years ago in a Rosemoor neighborhood shooting.
Both of their deaths were covered by the media, Allen said sadly. Now, she ‘s been following the latest stories about her great granddaughter’s death.
“People are cruel,” she said of online commenters. “He was a great dad. He loved her very much and she would light up when she saw him.’
Allen said the girl was actually in a booster seat for an older child. Prosecutors said she was being held in the lap of a 26-year-old woman who was a rear passenger in the car. Davis was driving and Danyla’s mother was in the front passenger seat. Danyla’s mother and the other woman were able to get out of the wreckage, but Davis was trapped inside, requiring authorities to remove him from the “heavily damaged” vehicle.
Davis shuffled in place throughout the hearing Wednesday, alternately staring down at the floor and looking up at the ceiling and occasionally wiping his eyes.
Assistant Public Defender Paul Bellender said Davis had dropped out of high school during his senior year and began carrying a gun for protection after his brother was killed. Bellender said he didn’t believe Davis would be able to come up with the $10,000 needed to post bond.
Davis was not allowed to have a gun because of a 2017 felony conviction for unlawful use of a weapon for which he was sentenced to a year in prison, according to court records.
His next court date was set for March 25.