EAST POINT, Ga. — On Friday, the family of a man shot by police nearly 60 times, took their case to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Monteria Robinson wants the right to sue the officers involved in her son’s death. It’s just one more twist in the family’s five-year fight for accountability.
Jamarion Robinson was shot and killed while U.S. Marshals served an arrest warrant in 2016. At the time, it was unclear if the Fulton County District Attorney would, or could, file criminal charges against the officers, so she filed a civil lawsuit.
The arrest warrant was being served with the aid of officers from several jurisdictions, under the umbrella of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force. That meant Robinson would have to file her civil suit in federal court.
After several years of motions and hearings, a federal judge dismissed the case, contending Robinson did not have enough evidence to prove excessive force or that officers lied about what happened that day.
On Friday, Robinson’s attorney Dallas LePierre got 15 minutes to explain why he thought that decision was a mistake.
A key piece of evidence is a video taken by a neighbor. In it, you hear nearly three minutes of gunfire, then a flash bang and about 20 seconds of silence. Then you hear what appears to be another burst of gunfire.
All of the officers testified under oath they did not fire their weapons after that flash bang. The Department of Justice pointed out no evidence was submitted, proving the sounds heard were indeed gunfire, and if so, from what gun.
Justices on the appeals panel also asked questions about a bullet found under the carpet, in the floor of the townhome where Jamarion Robinson was killed. The family says it is evidence Jamarion was shot at close range, after it was clear he was already dead or at least incapable of defending himself.
The DOJ argued the bullet was found by a private investigator, not the investigators for the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, and that no chain of custody existed to protect the evidence or even prove it was evidence in the case.
Robinson’s attorney Mario Williams has said all of these are questions a jury should be allowed to decide.
“You’re not asking the judge to say, as a plaintiff’s attorney I’m right. You’re saying, 'Hey let me try have a chance at convincing (a jury) that I’m right.' That’s all. One of the hardest things in the whole world is to convince 12 people from different social, economic, demographic backgrounds that you’re right about something,” said Williams.
It could take months for the appeals court to make a decision. In the meantime, a grand jury in Fulton County did indict two of the officers involved for murder. The DA’s office will likely be watching for the outcome of the appeal, as prosecutors will be relying on the same video and evidence.