ATLANTA -- For the first time, the parents of two-year-old Brandy Buffington, who was struck and killed by a daycare van driver in Atlanta last month, are speaking out, insisting that what really happened should lead to the arrest of the driver.
Brandy Buffington was killed on February 18 while she was playing outside of her uncle's apartment building, at 705 University Avenue, SW, which is where University dead-ends, west of Metropolitian Parkway.
The driver of the daycare van had just dropped off other children when she accidentally struck and killed Brandy,who had not been on the van; at the time, Atlanta police said they believed the driver was backing up and did not see Brandy darting into the van's path.
Brandy's parents and their attorney told reporters on Tuesday that they now have evidence and a witness to prove Brandy was standing near children, standing still in front of the van, and the driver struck Brandy while pulling forward.
Atlanta police said Tuesday no charges against the driver are anticipated, but the investigation remains open. Police are not releasing the identity of the driver, they are not releasing the incident report, and they are not commenting on what the parents and the attorney said Tuesday.
"Since this incident happened, I haven't been able to sleep at night, I'm always crying, my heart just feels so heavy," said Brandy's mother, Shantekia Jackson, through her tears.
Ms. Jackson and Brandy's father, Randy Buffington, said they are convinced the driver is lying about what happened.
"She pulled forward," said the attorney, Christopher Chestnut of Atlanta, "heard a bump, got out of the van and said, 'What did I hit?', and the witness said, 'You hit a baby.'"
And, according to Chestnut, "At no point did the witness ever see the driver back up."
11Alive News has tried to reach the daycare for comment, but as of Tuesday night no one had returned messages left with a receptionist.
Brandy's parents said they may sue just to get the driver on the stand, under oath.
"If the city is not going to charge her with what she's really supposed to be charged with," Buffington said, "she needs to just come out and state the facts and the truth of what really happened. Because what she said is not what really happened."
"I cry at night because all I want to do is hold my baby," Jackson said. "And I can't hold my baby. And for her [the driver] not to be telling the truth about what really happened, it's really painful." Jackson, wiping her tears, paused for a moment. "I'm sorry. It's really painful."
They said Brandy's uncle was babysitting her that day. And they said that because the same daycare-van-driver picks up and drops off children often, right there, in front of the uncle's apartment building, she always sees children playing outside, spilling onto that dead-end street, and should have known a child might be standing in front of the van as she pulled away.
Attorney Chestnut said he has not been able to find out why there was not a spotter riding along with the driver, helping the driver check for children in front of the van as it departed.
"Brandy died a death that was preventable," Chestnut said, "and we want to make sure that no other family goes through what these two are going through today."
As they see it, the driver is trying to place blame on Brandy by saying Brandy ran into the van's path.
"It is unfathomable that someone would make an allegation against a child, a dead child, who cannot defend herself, and to do so inaccurately," Chestnut said. "She's trying to shift blame to a dead two-year-old.... Not only should she have seen her, it's okay, but just don't lie on a two-year-old.... Come forward and tell the truth."