Posted March 31, 2008 – A major police scandal in Atlanta could result in officers being prosecuted for two fatal shootings as well as thievery, racial prejudice and even evidence-tampering by a top official in the coroner’s office, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
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A grand jury report released late last week calls into question the actions of a DeKalb County Police officer who shot to death a 19-year-old Black man in August 2006 and a 22-year-old Black man who was fatally shot 19 times the same month. The special grand jury did not have the authority to return criminal indictments but recommended further investigation, the Journal-Constitution reports. It also urged a probe of a DeKalb officer who shot, but did not kill, another man.
In all, the panel found that of 29 shootings reviewed, an astounding 23 were deemed "justified" and that officers were found not at fault in non-shooting deaths of two suspects in custody. According to the Journal-Constitution, “the grand jury's finding angered family members of slain suspects,” noting that about a dozen family members who met privately with District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming Thursday morning were visibly upset.
"We're re-burying our child again today," an angry Chandra Harden, whose 19-year-old son, Deon Studiemyer, was slain, told the newspaper. Studiemyer was shot by an off-duty officer who said the young man was breaking into his home. "I feel like we're standing over his casket again."
Ruenell Grier's son, 22-year-old Larry Bernard Pitts II, pictured above, was also killed in August 2006, the paper reports. He was shot 19 times by DeKalb Police.
"We need to know why they killed these boys and the young lady the way they did," Grier said. "How can you justify shooting 12 people in the span of 8 months? It just doesn't make any sense. There is not any justice in this [report]. We're not going to get any justice in Dekalb county."
She said that she and other wronged families will likely take their cases to courts outside DeKalb. "We have to let the public know this is unacceptable," she said. "You can't go shooting people and say they deserved it."