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Atlanta Police Chief, NAACP discuss 'serious concerns' about police shooting of unarmed black man

Civic leaders are demanding transparency in the shooting of 21-year-old Jimmy Atchison, an unarmed father of two who was killed in an altercation with Atlanta Police on Jan. 23.

ATLANTA — Atlanta civil rights leaders are demanding answers in the death of Jimmy Atchison, who was shot and killed by an Atlanta police officer at an apartment complex in Atlanta’s Adamsville neighborhood Jan. 23, 2019.

Police said Atchison was the suspect in an armed robbery case and authorities went to the apartment complex to serve a criminal warrant when he fled. He was apprehended in another apartment and shot and killed by an Atlanta police officer working with an FBI task force, according to police.

Atchison’s family maintained that he was unarmed and hiding in a closet when he was killed – and there are questions surrounding the officer’s use of force.

RELATED: Family of man killed in officer-involved shooting says he was unarmed and hiding in a closet

On Monday, the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP issued a statement on Atchison’s death, stating that the organization was "seriously concerned" about Atchison's death and is investigating the deadly shooting.

On Tuesday, Atlanta Police spokesman Carlos Campos confirmed that Shields spoke with NAACP Atlanta branch president Richard Rose on Monday and that she is “committed to transparency.” Shields said Atchison’s shooting was under investigation by the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and she “looks forward to reviewing the findings of those investigations,” Campos said.

Rose told 11Alive that the NAACP "continues to be concerned about the systemic practices that devalue black lives" and said he'd like to see more police psychological evaluations to make sure officers are responding to the community in a just way.

"We have to improve overall and have officers become more forthcoming about suspicions they have about fellow officers not being as sensitive as they could be ... and undergo regular psychological examinations, because people's lives change," Rose said. "We have to be vigilant ... if it comes down to a situation where the officer was clearly out of order, that person should not be a police officer. Not everyone is cut out to be a police officer. We have to find the right people for these jobs, to make a better Atlanta, and a safer Atlanta." 

The Atlanta officer involved in the shooting has been relieved of duty and will no longer be working as a police officer until the results of the investigation are known, Campos said. The officer, who has not been identified, was working as a member of a federal task force during the shooting.

“During their conversation, Chief Shields expressed her sympathies to the Atchison family for their profound loss,” Campos said.

"Tragically, a life has been lost. In all of the reports we have, this young man was unarmed. We continue to see unarmed black men being killed," Rose said. "We continue to have ongoing concerns that not enough attention is being paid to ensure officers value every life, and make it so they're not so quick to shoot, especially when their lives are not in danger. It looked like, in this case, no one was in danger. A person running away is not confronting the officer."

Atchison’s death was the second deadly police shooting in Atlanta within seven days. In the week prior, a plainclothes Atlanta Police officer shot and killed 18-year-old D’ettrick Griffin, who allegedly stole the officer’s car from a gas station.

RELATED: 2 suspects killed in Atlanta while allegedly running away - here's the department's policy 

Atlanta Police have not released the identity of the officer involved in D’ettrick Griffin’s death. His family maintains he was “murdered.”

The latest officer-involved shooting in metro Atlanta occurred in DeKalb County on Jan. 22. In that case, an officer attempted to pull over a car near Candler Road and Misty Waters and one of the people fired at the officer. The officer returned fire and hit the suspect multiple times, according to police.

RELATED: Suspect shoots at Dekalb County officer during traffic stop

That was also the third officer-involved shooting along Candler Road in DeKalb within a 45-day span.

Rose said the NAACP is holding an event on Saturday, Feb. 2 at Piedmont Park to discuss issues surrounding police shootings and the work that needs to be done to activate the social justice community.