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Former Dallas councilwoman killed by impaired driver in Oak Cliff, police say

Former Dallas councilwoman Carolyn Davis' daughter, Melissa Davis-Nunn, remains in critical condition.

DALLAS — This story has been updated throughout with additional information. 

Former Dallas councilwoman Carolyn Davis was killed and her daughter is in critical condition after their car was struck by an impaired driver Monday night in Oak Cliff, police say.

Davis, 57, was driving with her daughter, Melissa Davis-Nunn, on Ledbetter Drive when they were hit head-on by a Mazda SUV, near Horizon Drive. Davis-Nunn, 27, remains in critical condition, police say.

The Mazda SUV crossed over the median and struck Davis' Cutlass Ciera, police said. 

“We lost a soldier,” said community organizer Edna Pemberton of the former councilwoman. “She was a warrior. Ever since she was 16, she was fighting for the people.”

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said he "was saddened" to hear of Davis' death. 

"I want to express my sincerest condolences to the Davis family and will keep them in prayer during this difficult time," Johnson said in a written statement. 

The suspect, 36-year-old Jonathan Moore, has a lengthy criminal history. A background search reveals he had at least four previous DWI charges. He remains in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and was placed under arrest. 

RELATED: Intoxicated driver was on drugs, driving wrong way in crash that killed former council woman, records show

Credit: Dallas County Sheriff
36-year-old Jonathan Moore in 2014

Davis served on the council for eight years, representing southern and eastern Dallas in District 7 from 2007 to 2015.

”She wanted to make change,” said Pastor Willie Cochran as he stood outside Davis’ home in the Queen City neighborhood of South Dallas. 

He has lived on the same street as the former council woman for years. 

”It’s sad,” Cochran said as word spread of Davis’ death. “It’s hard. It’s unbelievable that it happened.”

Credit: WFAA
July 15, 2019: The crash happened near the intersection of Ledbetter and Horizon in Oak Cliff.

Those who knew and worked with Davis are remembering her as an advocate who created programs for ex-offenders, an activist who fought to address zoning issues in South Dallas, and a leader who helped spruce up major streets in her community.

Sherman Roberts, one of Davis’ long-time friends said, ”We’re missing a warrior that’s fighting for the community, and we don’t have many of those in this city anymore.”

Bribery scandal

But she was also embroiled in controversy. Davis was the fifth Dallas city council member involved in bribery or embezzlement scandals since 2008: Don Hill, Al Lipscomb, James Fantroy and, most recently, Dwaine Caraway.

In March, Davis pleaded guilty to accepting about $40,000 in bribery payments from a housing developer Ruel Hamilton near the end of her tenure on the council. She had not been sentenced. 

Former council member Caraway, who represented the same district as Davis, was sentenced in April to four years and eight months in prison in a separate bribery case.

Her friend and mentor, Diane Ragsdale, says Davis was working to address that issue and clear her reputation.

Ragsdale explained, ”Carolyn was looking forward…she was upbeat She was looking forward to going to court, because she and her lawyer felt that they had acquired some additional documentation that could really resolve some of these issues.”

Doting mother

In a WFAA profile, Davis described getting her daughter medical help for schizophrenia. 

"My child was crying out to me," she said.

Credit: WFAA
Melissa Nunn-Davis

Nunn-Davis said she started hearing voices when she was 17. She said medication helped her. 

“It felt pretty intense, like, ah, relief. I don’t have to deal with this no more,” Nunn-Davis said. 

Davis said her daughter's experiences encouraged her to advocate for people experiencing homelessness and mental illness. 

”She loved her community,” said Arthur Fleming, past president of NAACP-Dallas Branch. “She’d walk these streets, and she listened to her constituents.”

Friends say they want Davis to be remembered for the sum of the work she did serving the community.

”I want them to know that she was an advocate for the community,” Fleming said. "She loved her community. She did the best she could for her community.”

RELATED: Ex-Dallas Councilman Dwaine Caraway sentenced to 4 years, 8 months in prison for bribery

RELATED: Former Dallas councilwoman Carolyn Davis pleads guilty to accepting $40K in bribery conspiracy

RELATED: Burglar targets home of Dallas City Council member Carolyn Davis

This is a developing story. Check back for new information. Download our free WFAA app to stay up-to-date on all news stories in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

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