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Veteran prosecutor: Grand jury had no choice but to decline charges against officer in Vincent Truitt case

The family of Vincent Truitt criticized the prosecutor and the grand jury.

ATLANTA — The opinion of a veteran prosecutor from DeKalb County is that the grand jury in Cobb County had no choice but to decline to press charges against a police officer who shot an alleged armed teen fleeing from a stolen car.

The family of Vincent Truitt criticized the prosecutor and the grand jury Thursday.

The Cobb County grand jury spent eight hours reviewing evidence, including police bodycam video.  

During the media briefing Thursday, the district attorney's office said the grand jury convened at 8:30 a.m. and reviewed substantial materials related to the shooting - including the body camera and dash camera videos from every officer who responded, witness testimony, stills from multiple vantage points, and slowed down video from the body camera. Those videos, which were not all shared with the media, purported to show a gun in Truitt's right hand, visible from multiple angles.

What was released Thursday to the media, however, only included excerpts of dash camera video and the body camera video from the officer who shot Truitt.

In the dash camera video, you can see the teen running from what police said was a stolen car. An officer chases after him, and, just out of frame, you can hear gunshots fired.

Then, there's the body cam video; it's a closer view of the teen leaving the car, and, at one point, you can see what looks like a dark object in his hand. The district attorney's office said it was a gun.

11Alive blew up the video and slowed it down, but the process made it so grainy, it was hard to tell what it was and whether the teen pointed it at the officer.

A gun was found by crime scene techs after police shot Truitt to death.

Cobb prosecutors said that, under the law, it doesn't matter that Truitt didn't appear to aim the gun. 

"The law says if a officer is chasing a felon who has a weapon, who poses a threat to others, he has the right to use deadly force," Cobb District Attorney Flynn Broady said on Thursday. 

RELATED: Vincent Truitt shooting: Here's what police video from that night shows

The law is "crystal clear," said former DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James.  "And, in this scenario, it says the officer is justified in using deadly force. I don’t like it, but it’s the law."

Truitt’s family criticized Cobb County prosecutors, who presented the case to the grand jury without returning a criminal charge.

Grand juries meet in secret and can play a powerful role in the criminal justice system. They can return indictments recommended by the district attorney.

But, as a civil grand jury, they can also independently investigate cases separately from prosecutors. In the Truitt case, the grand jury agreed that the officer who killed Truitt committed no crime, according to the DA.

"The grand jury is the voice of the community in the criminal justice system," James said.  "Prosecutors will present a case to grand juries for (political) cover" at times, he added.

The grand jury decision appears to close a divisive criminal case  -- although the victim’s family is already plotting a civil lawsuit.

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