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Union City families, police at odds over if man's death was murder or suicide

The deaths of two Union City men were investigated as suicides, but their families say they believe there's evidence of murder.

UNION CITY, Ga. — The death of a Union City man was ruled a suicide last year. Police said Henry Hutchins Jr. shot himself out of desperation. However, Hutchins Jr.’s father said he thinks there’s evidence his son was killed. And it’s not the first time Union City Police have been accused of getting a death wrong.

In an agonizing 911 call, you can hear a man scream, “He’s gone! My friend just (shot) himself. Help, please. He just shot himself in the head.”

The caller seems shocked and inconsolable. And Henry Hutchins Sr. said it’s all an act.

“God knows if I had some legs, I’d kill all of them. Because I know my son didn’t kill himself,” he said. 

His son Henry Hutchins Jr., who also went by Gibrell, died from a single gunshot wound to the head inside a Union City apartment building on July 3, 2022. Hutchins Sr. said police came to his door and told him that his son died by suicide.

According to the incident report from that night, Hutchins Jr. stripped naked and shot himself. The report also states that his family didn’t love him anymore. His dad said too much doesn’t add up.

Credit: Provided
Henry Hutchins Jr.

The initial police report said there was no gun found near his body. Hutchins Sr. said police later told him – they found it underneath his son.

Meanwhile, the medical examiner reported the bullet went through Hutchins Jr.’s. head, but no bullet was ever found.

And then there’s a man – Hutchins Jr.’s friend – who told police he was in the room when the shooting happened. The man who called 911. Cellphone video recorded by the Hutchins family captured the man saying, “He was standing right there and I was like please, 'G, please don’t do this.' And as soon as I did like this and came like this, it happened so fast.”

Hutchins Sr. said his story keeps changing.

“He told me my son was squatting down, he told my daughter my son was standing up,” he said.

Hutchins Sr.'s claims are strikingly similar to another family’s that 11Alive investigators first reported on in 2022.

Austin Mitchell’s death was labeled a suicide by Union City Police, despite a medical examiner saying the bullet wound was atypical of a suicide. We also obtained bodycam video showing police on the scene saying they suspected Mitchell was murdered. After our investigation, Union City Police reopened the case. 

Related: Police ruled his death a suicide. Why a young man's family believes he was murdered.

However, Mitchell’s father, Michael Postell, said one year later, police have made no progress in the case.

“Nothing. Nothing at all,” he said.

Postell said he provided Austin's cell phones to Union City Police who were supposed to send them to the GBI. Postell said he found out three months later the phones were never sent. 

"I wish I could have the GBI or attorney general to look at this case for us. That's what I really wish for because I lost all faith and confidence in Union City," Postell said. 

The Postell family hired private investigator Eric Echols, who said because the case is open, there’s no way to see the work police are doing.

“Honestly... I think they’re gonna let this case sit open and it’s gonna go to cold case,” Echols said. “No one can get the full investigation when a case is still deemed open.”

Union City declined to comment on this report. They’re not the only ones – not answering our questions.

11Alive asked to speak with the Fulton District Attorney’s Office about its 2021 Anti-Corruption Unit investigation into Union City Police and the cases it was labeling as suicides. The office promised to get back to us in a few weeks. That was months ago, and now it has stopped responding to our emails altogether.

“The fact that you’re not getting it, tells me something,” Echols said. 

He added the police and the DA’s office are failing to get these families and the public answers.

Hutchins Sr. said their silence leads him to believe one thing.

“If you get killed in Union City, it’s a suicide…. The streets know exactly what happened,” he said. 

The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Hutchins Jr.'s death a suicide, unlike Mitchell’s death. Union City Police said they are waiting on some ballistics evidence tied to the gun before they officially close the case.

The Postell family is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone with information that can lead to an arrest in their son's case. They say anonymous tips can be made by calling their private investigator Eric Echols at 678-965-0610. 

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