Man who bought gun that allegedly killed Detroit officer gets no bail

Christian Peck-Dimit
The Detroit News

A Detroit magistrate judge ruled Tuesday that Sheldon Avery Thomas, who allegedly purchased the gun that police say Ehmani Davis used to kill Detroit police Officer Loren Courts, should be held in the custody while he awaits further court hearings.  

Thomas is accused of making a straw purchase, or buying a gun for someone who cannot legally have one, which is a federal crime punishable by a maximum of $250,000 and 10 years in prison.

Sheldon Thomas is shown carrying a Drago semi-automatic pistol he purchased from an Eastpointe gun store. Federal authorities are accusing Thomas of illegally buying the gun for Ehmani Davis, who police say shot and killed Detroit police Officer Loren Courts last week.

Leon Parker, Thomas' attorney, argued for tethered release with  home detention, but Magistrate Judge Jonathan Grey rejected the request. Thomas has no prior convictions, has had a somewhat stable employment history and no recorded gang affiliations, according to Parker.

But Grey said Thomas posed too great of a danger to the community to be released between court hearings. 

“A tether would not stop you from encountering or engaging with other friends,” Grey said. 

The magistrate said Thomas his ruling on bail was based on the evidence presented by the prosecution.

Thomas allegedly sought to arm Davis, who should not have been been allowed to buy a weapon because of his criminal history, Grey said.  He pointed to the audio of Thomas telling agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that Davis was “not to be f----- with,” as well as the allegation that Thomas knew Davis had been briefly jailed in an unrelated incident a year prior.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Lanning argued that Thomas has made multiple efforts to supply Davis with a gun in the past, pointing out an instance from February that was unsuccessful. She also brought up an alleged incident in which Davis stole one of Thomas’ guns. 

While Thomas purportedly warned Davis via text not to do anything stupid with the gun, that wasn't enough, Grey said. During the transaction, Thomas allegedly told Davis: "Don't do anything f------- stupid because my name is on (the gun)," according to the prosecutor's criminal complaint. 

“Your judgment has proven to be terrible in relation to the government’s allegations,” Grey said to Thomas.

Detroit U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison filed the complaint against Thomas, who allegedly bought the pistol that Davis allegedly used to kill Courts. Thomas is accused of making false statements when buying the gun, saying he was buying it for himself.

“The tragic death of Officer Courts is one more terrible example of what happens when guns are supplied to those who are prohibited from possessing them,” Ison said in a release.

“Our office will continue to focus on the drivers of violence, which includes both those who commit violent crimes using firearms and those who help them obtain firearms illegally. This case should serve as a warning to those thinking about straw purchasing firearms — you will face federal charges.”