ATLANTA — It’s happened twice in the last seven days – an Atlanta Police officer shoots and kills a suspect allegedly running away. It calls into question when the department is allowed to use deadly force in those types of situations.
It was Tuesday morning when an FBI task force went to a northwest Atlanta apartment complex to track down Jimmy Atchison. The 21-year-old had a warrant for armed robbery. The FBI said when they arrived, the suspect took off.
“He jumped out the window of one of the apartments, jumped down a couple floors, there was a foot chase that ensued into another apartment, and that's when the suspect was confronted by one of the officers on the taskforce and that's when the suspect was eventually shot and killed," explained Atlanta FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson.
Last week, an officer in plain clothes was pumping gas into his unmarked police car when a suspect, 18-year-old D’ettrick Griffin, allegedly slipped into the driver’s seat and took off. The officer opened fire, hitting Griffin as he drove away. The teen crashed into two cars, and later died at the scene.
What makes both of the shootings controversial is the apparent lack of a weapon present on the suspects when either Atlanta officer opened fire.
11Alive’s Ryan Kruger checked the department's use-of-force policy. In both of these instances, the suspects were running away – or in the case of last week's shooting, driving away – when the officers shot the suspects. That is allowed by the APD, but only under certain circumstances. An employee may use deadly force only when they believe the suspect has a deadly weapon or when they believe the suspect's escape could cause future harm to someone else.
It's not yet know if the suspect killed today, Atchison, was carrying a weapon. It is known for a fact that Griffin was not carrying a weapon.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is handling both investigations. But since Tuesday’s shooting involved an FBI taskforce, agents from Washington, D.C. will be flying to investigate, as well.