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NAACP leaders call on Department of Justice to investigate Atlanta Police Department

The Atlanta and Georgia Chapters of the NAACP held a press conference Friday to publicly request federal prosecutors investigate APD.

ATLANTA — NAACP leaders during a press conference Friday said they're seeking accountability and believe a federal investigation is needed to reach their goal.

They raised concerns about the number of Black men shot by Atlanta Police officers in recent years where the investigations remain open, prosecutors haven't resolved the cases, or the civil rights organizations leaders believe excessive force was used but officers weren't held accountable.

The press conference was held days after a special prosecutor announced charges would be dropped against the officers involved with the 2020 killing of Rayshard Brooks

The NAACP believes the case of Brooks' death should have been presented to a grand jury to ultimately decide if the officers were charged.

Presidents of the Atlanta and Georgia chapters of the civil rights organizations stood alongside the family of Nygil Cullins during the press conference. 

Cullins was a 22-year-old killed in May during an encounter with Atlanta Police officers at Fogo de Chao steakhouse in Buckhead. 

"I want a thorough investigation, the lack of participation and lack of communication isn't acceptable," Nygil's mother Mya Speller Cullins said. "This has happened way too many times. When does the buck stop?"

The GBI is leading the investigation of Cullin's death. His father said the family has been waiting for months for the investigation to be completed. 

"We need answers immediately. It is a broken heart and we need answers," Quinten Cullins said. 

A GBI spokeswoman on Friday told 11Alive the GBI previously met with the family where it shared initial findings from its investigation, explained its typical investigation process, and in the near future plans to hand a report over to the Fulton County District Attorney. The DA's office would then decide if the officers were justified to use deadly force and if the case is presented to a grand jury.

RELATED: 'Where was my help?' | Parents of man shot, killed by police at Buckhead restaurant say they called 911 for help with mental health crisis

"It is bigger than Rayshard Brooks, it is bigger than Nygil Cullins, it is bigger than Oscar Caine, It is bigger than Caine Rogers," said Gerald Griggs, president of the Georgia NAACP. 

Griggs during the press conference mentioned the names of several young Black men killed in recent years by Atlanta Police officers. He believes there is a pattern of unresolved cases where families are left without answers for months or years. 

That led to him making a demand during the press conference Friday. 

"That the Department of Justice opens a pattern and practice investigation similar to what happened in Louisville," he said.

The investigation in Kentucky was opened by the Department of Justice in 2021 to examine Louisville Metro Police after the 2020 killing of Breonna Taylor during a police raid resulting in her death. 

Earlier this month federal prosecutors filed charges against four of the officers involved in the raid. 

Griggs believes a federal investigation of APD could lead to a solution he often hears suggested to ease tensions across the city but it is a solution not easily reached. 

"We need to heal the community. We need to bridge the divide between law enforcement and the community," Griggs said he often hears. "Well, the only way that happens is with police accountability."

11Alive contacted Atlanta Police on Friday to inquire about the concerns raised by the NAACP and its call for a federal investigation of the department. 

An APD spokesman e-mailed 11Alive, "We are aware of the concerns that the NAACP raised in their press conference. We are reviewing the feedback and will be following up appropriately."

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