NEW YORK - To some on the streets, Larry Davis was a legend: a black drug dealer who shot six white police officers as they closed in to arrest him, then fled into the night and eluded capture for more than two weeks.
To authorities, he was an outrage - a violent criminal who would beat the court system time and time again, staying out of jail until he was convicted years later in a separate case.
His saga came to a violent end Wednesday night, when a fellow inmate stabbed him to death with a homemade knife in a New York state prison. Years after the violence that made him notorious, his dual identity still stirs emotions in the city.
Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who was in office when the case was tried, said he didn't shed any tears when he learned that Davis had been killed.
'He was a killer, and he shot six cops,' Koch said. 'You shouldn't take pride in the execution of anybody illegally, but I believe that there is a special oil pot in hell for him.'
Davis was 20 and was wanted in the killings of five fellow Bronx drug dealers when police raided his sister's Bronx apartment on Nov. 19, 1986. As they burst in, Davis grabbed a pistol and began firing. Six officers were wounded in an exchange of gunfire; others ran for their lives.
He was on the lam for 17 days before he finally surrendered at a Bronx housing project.
As police led him away in handcuffs, crowds of supporters who believed he was a symbol of resistance defending his life by standing up to a corrupt police force came to cheer him on, chanting 'Lar-ry! Lar-ry! Lar-ry!'
At his trial, his two radical lawyers, William Kunstler and Lynne Stewart, made a remarkable argument: They said he had been pushed into drug dealing by corrupt cops, then targeted by a police death squad when he defied their will and tried to quit.
Davis was never able to produce evidence to corroborate his claims, but it hardly mattered. After 38 hours of deliberations, the jury found he had fired at the officers in self-defense, and he was convicted only of weapons charges.