Friend who bought gun for man who killed Detroit officer is sentenced to prison

Sheldon Thomas lied during his purchase of a pistol that was used in the killing of Officer Loren Courts

By Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

DETROIT — A man who bought a pistol a friend used to fatally shoot Detroit police Officer Loren Courts last summer was sentenced Tuesday to two years in prison, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan announced.

Sheldon Thomas, 27, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain.

He pleaded guilty in December to making a false statement in the acquisition of a firearm that friend Ehmani Davis used to shoot and kill Courts during an ambush July 6 outside a shuttered salon on Joy Road near Marlowe.

Thomas earlier was indicted and accused of buying a Century Arms Draco pistol from dealer Action Impact in Eastpointe.

"Thomas admitted to lying on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Federal Firearms Transaction Record Form 4473, by falsely certifying that he was the buyer of the firearm when he knew he was purchasing it for Ehmani Davis," investigators said in a statement Tuesday.

Thomas gave Davis the firearm on June 7, the day of the purchase, according to the release.

"Thomas admitted that Davis gave him the money to buy the firearm," officials said. "Thomas further admitted that he made multiple attempts to purchase a handgun for Davis."

At the time of the shooting, Courts and his partner, Amanda Hudgens, both five-year Detroit police veterans from the 2nd Precinct, were responding to a 911 call reporting that a man was firing shots out of an apartment window with a Draco semiautomatic pistol.

Police said Davis, 19, opened fire through the closed window of his apartment unit above the hair salon, shattering glass from the residence and the squad car. A bullet struck Courts in the neck as he sat in the cruiser, police said. Davis was killed by police at the scene.

[RELATED: Detroit chief: Slain officer was 'ambushed' by man, 19]

"The tragic death of Detroit Police Officer Loren Courts is another terrible example of what happens when guns are supplied to those who are prohibited from possessing them," U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison said. "Fighting violent crime is a top priority in our office, and we are committed to holding accountable those who engage in illicit firearm transactions."

This case was investigated by the ATF.

"The loss of Detroit Police Officer Courts was a tragedy that could have been prevented," said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Craig Kailimai. "There are serious consequences that can come from illegally purchasing firearms for prohibited individuals. A critical part of ATF's mission is to stop violent criminals from possessing firearms before a loss of life occurs.

"We will continue to work side by side with our U.S. Attorney's, federal, state and local law enforcement partners to make our communities safer."

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