WASHINGTON D.C., DC — A newly formed group of Georgia moms is taking a stand by bringing their shared heartbreak to congress. Every member of Georgia Moms United has lost a child in a police encounter. The group recently traveled to Washington, DC, where they demanded change, and for their cases to be reopened.
“Everything about me has changed since the day I lost my son, said Dalphine Robinson. Her 22-year-old son Jabril was shot multiple times and killed while running from Clayton County police in 2016. Part of the investigation; conflicting police and witness testimony about whether or not Jabril was armed.
No officers were ever charged, and Robinson quickly learned how hard it was to get answers about exactly what happened.
"I didn't know which way to go or which way to turn with dealing with my son's case," she said. "I had other mothers that come to me that was going through this to come to me and say, 'ok, this is the next step that you take. This is how you're going to pursue this.'"
"Basically I'm fighting and doing everything on my own, trying to get his case reopened with the help of other mothers that has been through this."
That inspired the start of Georgia Moms United.
“You spend a whole lot of time trying to clear your child's name. Then you're trying to grieve. then you're also fighting the system," said Montye Benjamin.
Benjamin lost her son Jayvis in 2013. The 20-year-old reportedly led police on a chase, before crashing the car. He was then was shot and killed by an Avondale Estates Police Sergeant.
"I was a criminal justice major. I knew the steps that I needed to take," Benjamin recalled of the days, months, and years that followed the shooting. "Because not only was my son denied due process, I was denied due process. There's a lot of other families, not just mine... that are being intimidated by law enforcement to the point where they want us to just walk away like nothing ever really happened."
Police records do confirm Jayvis was unarmed and had no criminal history. The officer was never charged, claiming self-defense. The video of the incident was inconclusive, as the shooting happened off-camera.
“All my son deserved was a citation and a day in court, as opposed to being actually killed," Benjamin said.
Tammy Featherstone feels the same way about her nephew Jimmy Atchison who, in 2019, was hiding from police in a closet when he was shot and killed by a now-ex APD officer, who has not been charged.
"We need to start holding these officers accountable for their actions," Featherstone said. “We’re all going through the same pain. We have to support each other. That's the only way that we can get change if we unite and fight this fight together.”
Featherstone said she found kinship and much-needed support in Georgia Moms United.
"We saw how connected other states were, you know, how supportive they were to one another," she said. "So we decided to create an organization here in Georgia because we never get any support."
Featherstone said one of their goals is to advocate for more support on not only the state but also federal level.
"I think that they should bring someone from another state, an unbiased person, and to look at these cases, reevaluate these cases," she said.
With community donations, Georgia Moms United traveled to DC to demand their cases be reviewed or reopened, and that more resources and third-party advocates be granted to families in the wake of officer-involved shootings.
“We need to be heard," Benjamin said. "We don't really have a real platform.”
The moms have been united by a common, heartbreaking thread; But are united nonetheless.
“My son is very important to me, his case is very important to me," Robinson said. "It's excruciating to me because we don't get a chance to grieve. But at this point, it's bigger than just Jabril. It's the families that are suffering. They don't know which way to turn. They don't have the support. It's hard, but it has to be done and you have to push and keep going and keep fighting.”