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Like ‘getting hit with bricks’: Man testifies against former KU player Silvio De Sousa

Jesse Newell
·5 min read

Grant Davis told a Douglas County judge Tuesday that he felt like it was “getting hit with bricks” when he was struck by former Kansas men’s basketball player Silvio De Sousa in an incident that caused Davis to permanently lose vision in his left eye.

Davis testified for nearly two hours during a preliminary hearing Tuesday — one in which Douglas County Judge Sally Pokorny ruled that prosecutors had enough evidence to take an aggravated battery case against De Sousa to trial.

De Sousa, whose attorney Hatem Chahine put in a not guilty plea on his behalf, has a jury trial set to begin Aug. 2.

Tuesday’s hearing pressed on more than five hours, as both prosecutors and the defense called on witnesses to discuss events surrounding the alleged battery at Brother’s Bar & Grill in Lawrence on Jan. 1, 2020 — nearly a year before De Sousa announced he was leaving the KU basketball team.

The Shawnee native Davis, 32, was first, wearing a patch over his left eye. He said after going to a Lenexa bar on Dec. 31, 2019, he drove himself to Lawrence to celebrate the New Year, having two drinks in 1 1/2 hours at Brother’s before stepping outside to cool off just after midnight.

It was then that he saw De Sousa — Davis said he didn’t know he was a KU basketball player — arguing with two blonde-haired women, which included De Sousa’s girlfriend Tarin Travieso and her softball teammate Macy Omli. Davis said he turned to tell De Sousa to “Shut the (expletive) up,” when De Sousa charged and struck him.

Davis said he felt like he was struck twice by De Sousa on the left side of his face, saying that he dropped to a knee following one of the blows when it “felt like my eye was getting hit with bricks.” He said De Sousa was restrained by one of his friends, and later one of the women apologized to him.

Davis testified that his left eye swelled up with some blood mixed in. He said it hurt to open his eye, and after trying to sleep off the pain, he eventually drove himself to Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

From there, Davis said he was transferred to Shawnee Mission Health, where he had the first of three surgeries on his eye. David Dyer of Retina Associates in Kansas City testified that his examination showed that the part of Davis’ eye where the colored pupil meets the white part had opened up, with part of the tissue from inside of the eye coming to the outside. Dyer said Davis also was missing the lens from that eye and had a detached retina.

Dyer said Davis will never see out of his left eye again, with further medical procedures being done in an attempt to help Davis keep his eye instead of having it removed.

Davis testified that there were times he had to sleep propped up a certain way to care for his injury, and even now, he still experiences occasional itching or pain in that area.

Jared Schreiner, an ER physician for Lawrence Memorial Hospital, testified that Davis also suffered a broken bone just below his eye. While Davis was in the ER, Schreiner also observed hemorrhaging and bleeding within his eye before suggesting transfer to an eye specialist.

Omli — a prosecution witness — said she had a good view of the incident, saying De Sousa and Travieso were in an argument outside Brother’s when Davis yelled at them to be quiet. Omli said De Sousa attempted to strike Davis twice with an open hand, later saying she saw Davis bleeding from his eye and face. She later said she told Davis she was sorry when he came over to apologize for what he’d said.

Lawrence detective Lance Flachsbarth, who interviewed De Sousa with Chahine present at the KU basketball dormitory, McCarthy Hall, on Oct. 15, 2020, testified that De Sousa claimed then that Davis had called him an expletive. De Sousa also told Flachsbarth that Davis said, “What are you going to do?” before De Sousa swatted at him twice.

Douglas County Deputy District Attorney David Melton, during questioning, pressed Flachsbarth on whether it was unusual to interview a suspect like De Sousa with his lawyer present. Flachsbarth said while that doesn’t happen frequently, it does sometimes occur, while admitting those settings typically only resulted in the suspect providing a statement. Flachsbarth said without an attorney present, detectives typically can be more confrontational with suspects and challenge more of what they are saying.

Chahine called two witnesses for the defense: Chad Cessna, a former bouncer at Brother’s, and Travieso. Cessna stated he saw the incident from about 25 feet away and viewed De Sousa’s open-handed slap. Cessna testified that, from where he was, he did not see Davis fall to the ground, nor did he see any blood on his face.

Travieso, who said she is still dating De Sousa, stated she was upset with De Sousa after she couldn’t find him in the bar at midnight, which led to the argument outside. She said De Sousa swung and missed at Davis the first time, before connecting with his cheek the second time, which she said resulted in some redness.

Melton asked Travieso if a decision in De Sousa’s case could potentially mean a lot of money was on the line because of his potential pro basketball prospects.

“If he makes it, yes,” Travieso said.

Travieso later stated she and De Sousa had spoken recently about potentially breaking up while pursuing their different career paths.

Melton also attempted to point out inconsistencies in Travieso’s testimony Tuesday compared to what she told detectives in August, which included her first telling them that she couldn’t remember the Jan. 1 incident.

Various witnesses testified that former and current KU men’s basketball players Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji and David McCormack also were present at Brother’s that night.

De Sousa was originally charged with aggravated battery on Oct. 28. He and KU coach Bill Self announced on Oct. 16, 2020, that he was leaving the team to focus on “personal issues.”

Aggravated battery is a Level 5 felony, with prosecutors charging that De Sousa “unlawfully, feloniously and recklessly cause(d) great bodily harm or disfigurement to another person.”