Image: Larry Davis
Ted Cowell  /  AP
Police escort Larry Davis, third from left, black jacket, after he surrendered in the Bronx borough of New York in this December 1986 file photo.
updated 2/21/2008 2:22:47 PM ET 2008-02-21T19:22:47

A man who gained notoriety after wounding six police officers in a 1986 gunfight that led to a nationwide manhunt was killed in prison, corrections officials said Thursday.

Larry Davis, serving 25 years to life on a murder conviction in an unrelated case, was stabbed to death around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday during a recreational break at Shawangunk Correctional Facility in Ulster County, said Erik Kriss, a spokesman for the state Department of Correctional Services.

Davis was stabbed repeatedly with a 12-inch long, half-inch wide homemade metal shank in the arms, head, back, upper thigh and chest, Kriss said.

"I don't know what was happening at this exact moment," he said, adding that prison staff were in the yard when a fight was observed and inmates began congregating. "Things happen quickly."

Another inmate at the prison 80 miles north of the city was being questioned in Davis' death by state police and the inspector general for corrections and had been placed in a segregated cell, Kriss said. The inmate had not been charged in Davis' death as of early Thursday.

Davis, 41, had most recently been convicted in 1991 of fatally shooting a suspected drug dealer in the Bronx.

Five years earlier, police had gone to an apartment to arrest him as a suspect in the slayings of five other drug dealers.

Folk hero also symbol of outrage
During the ensuing shootout, Davis escaped unhurt through a window, setting off a 17-day manhunt that involved hundreds of officers. He eventually surrendered to police after being tracked to a housing project where one of his sisters lived, where he held a woman and her children hostage in an all-night standoff before giving up, police said at the time.

At his trial, the defense contended that the officers were trying to kill Davis because he had knowledge about police corruption, and that he opened fire in self-defense. Prosecutors said Davis was trying to evade arrest by shooting at the officers.

A jury acquitted him of attempted murder and aggravated assault. He was instead convicted on weapons charges and sentenced to five to 15 years in prison.

The gunfight and Davis' flight from the law made him a folk hero to some and a symbol of outrage to others, especially law enforcement. More than 1,500 officers incensed by the verdict gathered outside the courthouse to demand the maximum penalty.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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