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Family of Jimmy Atchison to file $20 million suit against City of Atlanta

The family's attorney filed a letter of intent on Tuesday planning to demand $20 million. Atchison was killed by an Atlanta officer during a raid last January.

ATLANTA — Attorneys for the family of Jimmy Atchison, the 21-year-old father of two, who they said was gunned down by an Atlanta police officer as he tried to surrender to a federal task force last January, have delivered to the City of Atlanta a formal letter of intent to sue the city for $20 million.

The city is not commenting at this point, while investigators are continuing to sort out the facts of what led to Atchison's death.

According to family members, Atchison was unarmed and hiding in a closet when he was shot in the face by Officer Sung Kim, who was working with a federal task force at the time.

FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said in January that agents were serving a warrant on Atchison, an armed robbery suspect, at an apartment complex in southwest Atlanta. When agents tried to make contact, their suspect led them on a chase through the building.

Atchison was found inside a closet in an apartment.

According to the letter presented to city officials on Tuesday by Attorney Tanya Miller, Atchison was unarmed and attempting to surrender and comply with officers' demands when Sung shot him in the face.

"Due to the egregious circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Atchison, and the substantial emotional and economic hardships caused by the conduct of the City of Atlanta Police Department on Mr. Atchison's two children, I have been authorized to make a demand for settlement in the amount of $20 million dollars at this time," the letter said. "Officer Sung Kim's illegal, unjustified and unconstitutional use of deadly force has robbed two children of the love and support of their father."

During a news conference on Tuesday, Atchison's father, Jimmy Hill, spoke with reporters, of how family members grieve for him. 

"No amount of money can replace Jimmy's life," he said. 

Credit: WXIA
(From left) Jimmy Atchison's father, Jimmy Hill; attorney Tanya Miller and Jimmy Atchison's mother, Cynthia Atchison, announce the intent to sue the City of Atlanta at a briefing on Tuesday, June 25, 2019.

Atchison's mother was unable to hold back her tears--her tears speaking for her son's two children -- Skylar, age 3, and Jalen, who is a year old -- who will have to grow up without their father.

"I'm not saying my son was perfect, but my son deserved to have his day in court. He did not deserve to be executed by Atlanta Police Officer Sung Kim. He took matters into his own hands, and became my son's judge, jury and executioner," Hill said. "And that ain't right. And he should pay."

Was Jimmy Atchison, an armed robbery suspect, unarmed and surrendering, as his family believed he was, when Officer Sung Kim confronted him to take him in?

The FBI is investigating all of that, so is the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, as well as the Atlanta Police Department and the Fulton County District Attorney's Office.

Officer Kim is now on administrative desk duty. 

They had no comment on Tuesday about the family's letter to the city giving official notice of their intent to sue. 

"This lawsuit is about his children," said Attorney Miller. "And our demand of $20 million essentially is for $10 million for each one of his kids."

Miller says she is investigating the case also.

"We, frankly, don't think $20 million is enough," Miller said. "We believe it is a small price to pay for what they took from these kids."

Hill says he is ready to let the lawsuit speak for his family now. 

Since the Atchison shooting, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields has said that all Atlanta officers must wear bodycams and that they must always be on

Shields said that this would apply to all officers, including those participating in federal operations. 

Federal operations preclude the use of bodycams by those on federal task forces. 

The Atlanta Police Department has since pulled its officers from all federal task forces, including those of the FBI, DEA and US Marshals after that formal directive from Chief Shields regarding bodycams for Atlanta officers.

Federal operations preclude the use of bodycams by those on federal task forces.

Atchison's family said in May that the move by Shields was not enough

Miller said the family wants to see Kim fired and for the APD to take substantive steps toward transparency and accountability.

On Tuesday, Miller said that she is not exactly certain when she will formally file the family's lawsuit, but she says she is confident that the facts, once they do come out, will explain the family's tears to the world.

MORE ON THIS CASE

Father of man killed by Atlanta officer called withdrawal from federal task force 'positive step'

APD pulling officers from federal task forces

Family, activists rally in support of man shot and killed by Atlanta police officer

Police release bodycam footage of deadly police shooting of 'peeping Tom' suspect

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