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3 years after his killing, Jimmy Atchison's family demand a grand jury hear his case

Records show in 2020 prosecutors in then Fulton DA Paul Howard's office recommended Atchison's case be presented to a grand jury.

ATLANTA — On the front steps of the Fulton County Court House Friday -- Jimmy Atchison's father, members of the Atlanta NAACP, and supporters chanted Atchison's name. 

"Say his name! Jimmy Atchison!" they shouted.

Saturday marks three years since Atchison was shot and killed by an Atlanta Police officer. 

The case has been investigated by the previous administration in the Fulton County District Attorney's Office, but is currently being reinvestigated by the current administration and hasn't been presented to a grand jury.

Jimmy Hill, Atchison's father, is tired of waiting.

"Why hasn't anybody said anything? Why is there not a public outcry? Why not an uproar?" Hill said Friday.

Tanya Miller, the family's attorney and a former prosecutor herself wants answers on why the case hasn't been presented yet. 

"We have been told the case is a priority but we have no sense when this case might be presented to a grand jury," Miller said. "Jimmy Atchison's death three years ago, I can't understand why it would take three years to present the case to a grand jury once it has been investigated already."

Miller said the family last talked with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis about the case one year ago when she took office as the county's new DA and has reached out for updates.

On Friday Miller sent 11Alive a document titled, "Jimmy Atchison Case Status Report."

A former prosecutor with former Fulton District Attorney Paul Howard's office confirmed the authenticity of the report and stated that it is a report fellow Fulton County prosecutors in the DA's office prepared in 2019 and 2020 when they investigated the circumstances of Atchison's death. 

The 21-year-old was shot and killed in 2019 as a joint FBI and Atlanta Police task force tried to arrest Atchison on a warrant related to an attempted robbery, though the family's attorneys have disputed if the robbery ever took place. 

Federal policy at the time didn't allow such task forces to use body cameras, so there is no body camera footage of the shooting. 

Atchison's family has stated he was unarmed, hiding in a closet and given conflicting commands from officers. When he got up he was shot and killed by APD Officer Sun Kim. A short time later in 2019, Kim retired from APD. 

The report completed by the Fulton County District Attorney's Office in 2020 recommended the case be presented to a grand jury in 2021, stated the use of force against Atchison was unjustified according to the office's investigation, and recommended felony murder and aggravated assault charges be pursued. 

After the report was finalized and before it could be presented to a grand jury, Fani Willis was elected district attorney. 

When asked about the report's findings and status of the case, Deputy District Attorney and Willis' office spokesperson Jeff DiSantis wrote, "Because of concern about the performance of the unit handling these matters during the prior administration, every case they left behind is being fully investigated by the new team to ensure that all relevant evidence has been collected and thoroughly reviewed. This ensures that the District Attorney has full information when she makes a decision about whether to seek charges." 

"These matters," refers to cases involving the use of force by law enforcement. 

Progress, according to DiSantis, is being made on handling such cases and reinvestigating them before decisions are made on presenting cases to a grand jury or closing the cases without pursuing charges.

"The District Attorney’s Anti-Corruption Unit is working through the large backlog of cases involving police use of force left by the prior administration. In the first year of her administration, all cases dating from 2009 through 2017, and all but 10 from 2018, have been resolved. Those resolutions include indictments in the 2016 death of Jamarion Robinson and the 2018 death of Antonio May," DiSantis wrote. "As the District Attorney has repeatedly stated, she will resolve all police use of force cases left behind by the prior administration by the end of 2022. The death of Jimmy Atchison occurred in 2019. A decision on whether to present that case to a grand jury for charges will be made by the end of 2022."

Meaning as Atchison's family remembers him Saturday, three years after his death, they will need to wait a bit longer to learn if his case will be presented in court.

    

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