Breaking News
More () »

Where do Atlanta's police shooting/use-of-force cases stand?

A number of cases have emerged in the area since mass protests last year against police brutality and the legal system's handling of such cases.

ATLANTA — (Editor's note: A version of this article was first published in September. This is an updated story following the murder conviction of Derek Chauvin.)

After the guilty verdict in the George Floyd murder case on Tuesday, many activists expressed a measure of relief, but were quick to note that there are many more police shooting and use-of-force cases that are yet to be resolved.

Around Atlanta, there are both a handful of high-profile cases that have emerged since protests followed Floyd's murder last year and some that even predate the mass movement.

Here are those cases, and where things stand with them:

Rayshard Brooks

Rayshard Brooks' death sparked some of the most searing protests around Atlanta last summer, underscored by the spectacle of a burning Wendy's restaurant the night following his death.

Brooks was shot by now-ex Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe as he ran from him after grabbing his Taser and discharging it back toward the officer. Brooks was then allegedly kicked and stepped on as he lay dying in the Wendy's parking lot. 

RELATED: ‘There’s a George Floyd in every city’: Why activists prepare for what's beyond Derek Chauvin verdict

The incident had started as a traffic stop for a suspected DUI over complaints of a man asleep at the wheel near the Wendy's drive-thru line.

Where it stands: Rolfe was charged with felony murder and multiple counts of aggravated assault by now ex-District Attorney Paul Howard. The other officer involved on scene the night of Brooks' death, Devin Brosnan, was charged with aggravated assault.

Rolfe was fired by the Atlanta Police Department and is currently free on bond. As a condition of his bond, Rolfe is under a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. personal curfew. Brosnan remains employed with the police department.

The case against the two officers is in a complicated legal position. Newly elected Fulton County DA Fani Willis has tried to recuse herself from prosecuting the case - contending Howard treated the case improperly in pursuit of re-election, making it impossible for her office to now handle it - only to be rejected by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.

Whether she can recuse or not is now the subject of its own court proceeding, with Willis due to appear before a Fulton County judge early in May to make her case.

UPDATE: In May, Atlanta's Civil Service Board ruled the city did not follow proper protocols when it fired Rolfe, and reinstated him to the force. 

In June, a Fulton County judge ruled Willis could recuse herself from the case, and in July Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced Peter J. Skandalakis, the executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, has been appointed in the Brooks case.

It's not clear when the case will now move forward.

Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young

Credit: AP Photo/John Bazemore

Taniyah Pilgrim, a Spelman student, and Messiah Young, a Morehouse student, were dragged out of a car and tased by officers last summer during protests in downtown Atlanta, in an episode they described as "the most traumatic thing" that had ever happened to them.

RELATED: 'He said that he was going to shoot us' | Atlanta college students open up about frightening police encounter

Four APD officers were fired over the incident - Investigators Ivory Streeter and Mark Garder, and later Armon Jones and Lonnie Hood - with another two, Roland Claud and Willie Sauls, put on desk duty. 

Gardner and Streeter were reinstated after a hearing with the Atlanta Civil Service Board in February.

All six face charges of varying seriousness (you can see the detailed charges here.)

Where it stands: Pilgrim and Young appeared publicly in February to provide an update on the case, after a personal meeting with Wilis.

As with the Brooks case, Willis has sought to recuse herself from prosecuting. 

L. Chris Stewart, an Atlanta attorney who was part of the legal team for Floyd's family in Minneapolis, has called for a special prosecutor to be named.

UPDATE: Following Willis' successful court bid for a recusal, Carr named Cherokee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Samir Patel as the prosecutor in this case.

Vincent Truitt

Vincent Truitt, 17, was shot and killed by a Cobb County Police officer at the end of a chase in July 2020. Police body cam video showed the teen was shot as he ran from officers after getting out of a car in which he had been a passenger. Officers had pursued it following a report of a stolen vehicle.

RELATED: Family: Dying words of teen shot by Cobb officer were 'why did you shoot me?'

The police narrative contended Truitt had "brandished" a weapon as he ran, with his family and attorneys saying the video showed he was running with his back to the officer who fired, never pointing anything at him or even turning back toward him, and clearly did not pose a threat.

According to an autopsy report, released by the Law Firm of Gerald Griggs, Truitt died after being shot twice in the back. His death was ruled a homicide.

Where it stands: The case is closed, and the officer - who was never named by the department - will not be charged, after a Cobb County grand jury ruled in February that the shooting was justified.

UPDATE: In June, Truitt's family and friends held a rally to mark one year since his death and attorney Gerald Griggs has said the family is now demanding a federal investigation in the case. Griggs also has argued Georgia state officials can step in and still present the case to a grand jury. 

Roderick Walker

Credit: Provided
Roderick Walker

Roderick Walker was beaten during an arrest in September, a scene captured in cell phone video taken by bystanders. Clayton County Sheriff's deputies had attempted to arrest him after pulling over a car in which he was a passenger because he would not give them identification.

One deputy, Brandon Myers, was fired in the incident. 

Myers could be seen in the video punching Walker in his midsection and around his head during the arrest while another deputy, Dekota Riddick, pinned him down and kept him in a hold around his neck.

RELATED: Man says 'I feared for my life' in violent Clayton County arrest

At one particularly unsettling moment in the video, Walker could be heard saying, "I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die, I can't breathe."

His attorneys said he suffered numerous injuries in the incident, resulting in neurological issues. After being released from Clayton County Jail, Walker was taken to Fulton County Jail on alleged probation violation charges, including allegedly possessing a firearm by a convicted felon and first-degree cruelty to children. He was released on a bond at that point to receive medical treatment.

Where it stands: 11Alive reached out to Clayton County District Attorney Tasha Mosley on Wednesday, who said her office completed an investigation and that grand juries would resume in the county in May.

Citing state bar rules, she said she could not specifically say whether there were plans to present the case to a grand jury.

UPDATE: In August, Clayton County announced a grand jury had indicted Myers on charges including battery and violation of oath of office, while Walker will now only face a seatbelt violation.

Matthew Zadok Williams

Credit: Williams family
Matthew Williams

Williams was shot and killed by a DeKalb County Police officer last week. 

Police bodycam video released to 11Alive showed Williams lunging at an officer with a knife, after encountering him at his home, where a neighbor had wrongly reported him as a prowler.

After another officer fired and missed, he ran back inside.

RELATED: Bodycam video: DeKalb man killed by police in own home asked 47 times to drop weapon

The video then showed a group of officers speaking to him through a door of the home, asking him numerous times to drop the knife.

"I’m begging you. You’re a Black man. I’m a Black man. You don’t have to die today. I don’t want you to die today," Sgt. Devon Perry with DeKalb PD says at one point, with Williams saying, "I’m defending my property."

"Let me see (the knife) drop. I can get you an ambulance out here. We can talk about this," Perry tells Williams. "This is my property," he responds.

Police say Williams lunged at them again with the knife, before an officer fired three times. Two separate bodycam videos released to 11Alive do not appear to be from the officer who fired, and do not have an angle showing Williams at the moment shots were fired.

More than an hour later, Williams' body was recovered from the house. 

Where it stands: No officers have been fired or charged. DeKalb Police Chief Mirtha Ramos said two investigations are ongoing 

UPDATE: In July, The New Yorker published an extensive review of the case that included new portions of bodycam footage and showed Perry telling a lieutenant who arrives on scene that Williams "came again towards the door with the knife" before later answering, "No," when someone asked him if Williams actually lunged at him.

In its review of footage, the New Yorker report notes: "None of the body cameras show Zadok doing anything to provoke the gunfire. He doesn’t become visible, much less cross the threshold of the door prior to Perry firing at him." In response, a DeKalb County spokesman told the magazine, “The body-cam video does not fully capture the interaction between Mr. Williams and the officer.”

The New Yorker report also outlines how EMTs were on site after Williams was shot but prevented from going inside and providing help because, DeKalb County said, "Fire Rescue policy prohibited EMTs from rendering aid at a crime scene until it is deemed safe by the police department."

It remains unexplained why DKPD wouldn't clear the area as safe as Williams was dying inside.

A GBI investigation closed in August and the case is now with DeKalb DA Sherry Boston.

Williams' family continues to question why Perry has not been fired, and have begun protesting outside Boston's office for action on the case every Wednesday. They have launched a petition to demand Perry's firing that so far has received more than 37,000 signatures.

Jimmy Atchison

Jimmy Atchison was 21-year-old when he was shot and killed while hiding, unarmed, inside a closet by now-ex-Atlanta police officer Sung Kim in January 2019, during a joint task force operation with the FBI.

In October 2019 the family said they met with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to hear the results of the GBI's investigation into the incident, and were told Atchison was given two conflicting commands by officers in the room -- to come out with your hands up and not to move. They said he was following the command to come out when he was shot. 

Kim retired from the police force that same month. Atchison's family has filed a $20 million lawsuit against the City of Atlanta and the FBI.

Where it stands: Kim was never charged.

UPDATE: In May, his family presented a report by former Fulton DA Paul Howard showing his office felt the shooting was not justified and that Kim should be indicted.

Howard had been weighing whether to bring charges in the case before he lost his re-election bid last year.

Atchison's family is now calling on current Fulton DA Fani Willis to bring charges in the case.

Jamarion Robinson

Credit: WXIA

Jamarion Robinson, 26, was killed in 2016 when he was shot nearly 60 times by U.S. Marshals agents, leaving him with 76 bullet wounds.

Robinson had been a college football player at Clark Atlanta University and Tuskegee University, and had no criminal convictions.

The Marshals Regional Task Force said it was serving an arrest warrant on behalf of Gwinnett Police and Atlanta Police, over incidents in which he had allegedly poured gas on the floor beneath his bed and in front of his mother’s bedroom and for allegedly pointing a gun at officers while being confronted at a friend’s apartment complex.

Robinson’s mom said she called police, not to have him arrested, but to get him mental health assistance. His mother said at the time he had been recently diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and that police were aware of this.

A private detective hired by his mother uncovered evidence of gunshots straight into the ground where his body was laying.

Where it stands: No officers were ever charged in connection to Robinson's death. The U.S. Department of Justice cleared officers of wrongdoing

Former Fulton DA Howard indicated at one point he was reviewing the case, but Willis has not to this point signaled if she will take up the case.

UPDATE: In August, Robinson's mom met with Fulton DA Willis and said she was told Willis restarted an investigation and is pursuing it "aggressively." She expects to meet with Willis again in September.

Caine Rogers

Caine Rogers, 22, was shot and killed by now-ex Atlanta police officer James Rolfe Burns in 2016.

Burns had been responding as backup to a call of a suspicious person, possibly breaking into cars, at an apartment complex off of Monroe Drive, when Rogers came upon him in his car.

Burns put his lights and siren on, and pulled in front of Rogers' car, but Rogers tried to continue around him. Burns fired a single shot into the passenger side of the car, hitting and killing Rogers. 

Initially, Burns allegedly told investigators Rogers tried to run him over with a car, but an internal affairs investigation found Rogers posed no threat to Burns. Dashcam video released in 2020 showed there was no attempt to ram the officer's car head-on or otherwise run him over.

Shean Williams, an attorney for the family, said "evidence strongly suggests" he had no involvement in the break-ins that initiated the police call.

Where it stands: Burns was fired and charged with murder. 

The case was briefly dropped in 2018, but he was re-indicted. No trial date has ever been set. Burns is free on bond with restrictions.

The family is suing the City of Atlanta.

Veltavious Griggs

Credit: Provided

19-year-old Veltavious Griggs was killed in 2019 in Union City under circumstances that have never been fully detailed.

According to the GBI, Union City police officer Jerome Turner, Jr. was responding to a call about a fight and, about 20 minutes after arriving on scene, radioed that he was chasing a subject, later identified as Griggs, whom he said had a gun.

Dispatch then lost contact with Griggs.

When backup arrived, they found Turner wounded and Griggs dead. The GBI said a gun was found on the scene.

In July 2019, the family told 11Alive's Hope Ford that was still the extent of what they knew. The family's attorney, at that time, said he had "interviewed several witnesses that contradict that narrative" that was provided by Turner.

Atlanta attorney Gerald Griggs (no relation) has said he obtained a Fulton County Medical Examiner's report that listed the cause of Griggs' death as a "contact gunshot to the head." He said he was concerned the official accounting of events "did not sound realistic."

Where it stands: Turner has never been charged, and remains on the Union City police force. 

Deaundre Phillips

Credit: WXIA
Deaundre Phillips

Deaundre Phillips, a young father, was shot and killed near the Police Annex Building on Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway in January 2017.

According to investigators, Phillips tried to drive off when officers approached the car and one of the officers, Yasin Abdulahad, shot him, as he was clinging halfway in and out of the car. Abdulahad was reportedly in plain clothes. 

In 2017, surveillance video was released that does not appear to show things happening that way. Attorneys said Phillips was never aggressive toward officers. 

At least one other man came forward to say he'd been beaten before by Abdulahad.

The GBI handed their investigation of the shooting over to the Fulton County DA's Office in May 2017. 

Where it stands: Howard said in a statement last year that he'd planned to bring the case to a grand jury in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. As with other cases predating her election, Willis has not signaled how she will handle this one.

Abdulahad is still with the Atlanta police force.

UPDATE: In August, Willis said she had determined she would not prosecute the case.

Oscar Cain

According to the GBI, 31-year-old Oscar Cain was shot and killed by an Atlanta police officer in March 2019, who had been "flagged down by a citizen who advised there was an armed individual in the area of the northbound entrance ramp of I-85 in Atlanta."

The GBI said that as the officer tried to arrest Cain, "he ran and the officer pursued him through the woods."

"Cain did not comply with verbal commands and during the incident, Cain reportedly brandished a firearm," the GBI reported last year. "The officer discharged his weapon, fatally wounding Cain. A firearm was found at the scene."

Cain was a well-known Atlanta activist, and groups have disputed the official narrative, noting the officer -- Marquee Kelley -- had his body camera turned off.

In June, Al Jazeera reported he was a "strong advocate for police bodycams" who had traveled to Ferguson, Mo. in 2014, to support the protests there, after the police killing of Michael Brown.

“There’s no bodycam footage, so without that, we only have one side of the story and that’s the officer saying Oscar brandished a weapon,” Atlanta civil rights lawyer Mawuli Davis told Al Jazeera.

Where it stands: Howard told Al Jazeera at that time, the case was still under investigation. His mother said she had not been given any updates. Willis has not publicly commented on the Cain case.

Kelley was never charged. It's not clear if he was ever fired.

D'ettrick Griffin

Credit: Family Photo

18-year-old D'ettrick Griffin was shot and killed by Atlanta police officer Oliver Simmonds in January 2019 as he allegedly tried to steal an unmarked police car.

His family told 11Alive in 2019 that while they understood the teen was committing a crime, he didn’t deserve to die.

“Even though my son did wrong, it was not left up to him (the officer) to execute my son,” his mother Gaysha Glover said.

She said they met with Howard and then-Police Chief Erika Shields after the incident, but told 11Alive in June 2020, that a year and a half later an investigation remained open.

Their attorney said the district attorney wouldn't hand over the surveillance video of what happened, and any time they request information on the case, they're told "it's under investigation."

Where it stands: Simmonds has never been charged. Willis has not publicly commented on the case.

UPDATE: According to a report at law.com, in July a judge rejected a motion by the City of Atlanta to dismiss a civil rights lawsuit against the city in Griffin's death.

Before You Leave, Check This Out