Grand jury clears officer of fatal shooting; Cobb DA will not prosecute

February 19 – MARIETTA – Cobb District Attorney Flynn Broady said Thursday he would not prosecute the police officer who shot Fulton County teenager Vincent Truitt last summer after he a grand jury ruled that the officer’s use of force was justified.

Speaking at a press conference less than two hours after the grand jury’s decision, Broady said he was not bound by the jury’s recommendation. But the newly elected prosecutor has a policy of following the recommendation of a grand jury in any shootout involving an officer, he added.

Lawyers for the Truitt family have said they will pursue a $ 50 million lawsuit against the county, alleging excessive force and wrongful death.

Truitt was one of three teenagers in a car stolen during an attempted traffic stop on July 13, 2020, according to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation statement released later in the week. The car escaped and then stopped in a dead end behind a building at 270 Riverside Parkway off Interstate 20, south of the Riverside EpiCenter in Austell.

Truitt and one of the other passengers in the car ran, the GBI said.

Cobb County Police Officer Max Karneol shot Truitt after the Fulton County teenager “brandished” a handgun as he fled, according to the GBI statement. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in critical condition and died the next day.

At a county board meeting, at a rally in Marietta’s Glover Park and on social media, Truitt’s family called on county leaders to press charges against Karneol, fire the head of the Cobb Police Tim Cox and to broadcast video captured by officers’ body cameras. who were present when Truitt was shot.

Broady’s predecessor, Joyette Holmes, shared the video with Truitt’s family in November. Lawyers for the family have long argued that the video would prove that Truitt had never wielded a weapon and that the officer had no reason to fear for his life or to shoot the teenager.

But Broady and Holmes have resisted calls to release the video, citing an exemption from state open case laws that allows the government to withhold information relevant to an ongoing investigation.

On Thursday evening, Broady said he considered the case closed and shared three videos of the moments leading up to Truitt’s death, including a video captured by Karneol’s body camera.

A photo in this video showed Truitt holding a handgun, but at no point in the video did he appear to point the gun at the officer.

Grand jury members received video from each officer’s body camera and dash cam from each police car, video captured by the warehouse where Truitt was shot, “all witness statements” and the testimony of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent who worked on the case, said Jason Saliba, of the prosecutor’s office.

“They were shown a slowed down version of the body camera along with the still image you saw and some other still images that are part of the GBI file,” he added.

Those videos will likely be released to the public early next week, DA spokesperson Kim Isaza said.

Speaking moments after Broady’s press conference, Truitt family attorney Jackie Patterson suggested Broady lied about how he presented the case to the grand jury.

A copy of the grand jury decision indicated that the case had not been presented as a criminal case, Patterson said. Obtaining an indictment is easier in a criminal case, he added.

“We have been deceived. Deceived, deceived,” he said.

Broady said the case was, in fact, presented as a criminal case.

“No charges were presented to the grand jury,” he said. “Basically what was presented to the grand jury were the facts, and the grand jury had to decide whether we should really charge the officer with anything?… Basically it was presented as a criminal case.”

In a separate press conference an hour later, Cobb Police Chief Tim Cox said Karneol was put on administrative leave after Truitt’s death, but was back full time .

“I recognize the loss of life is tragic,” Cox said. “I can’t imagine the pain the Truitt family endured during this time. I pray for this family every day. I also recognize the stress that any officer undergoes when having to use force or the situation they have to face. use force, and I have also prayed for this officer and his family every day.The two families will grapple with the emotions and feelings associated with this event for many years to come.

Broady said the officer acted in accordance with state law.

“Each of our police departments has a SOP (standard operating procedure) for their use of force,” he said. “And, right after the (state law), it says that if an officer pursues a criminal who has a weapon, who may present a danger to others, he has the ability to shoot, to use force. And in this case, the officer followed his SOP to the letter and also followed the law.

“That’s what I told the police: that in any… shootings involving a police officer, that I will present him to the grand jury and let the grand jury make a decision based on the citizens of our community looking at what is going. better for their community, “he continued.” I myself will not make a decision that requires me to show my biases or my emotions for what I saw in a live video. Because as an African American you hate to see an African American shot dead. But the fact is that we must follow the law. And the law says the officer was within his rights.

Truitt family attorney Gerald Griggs disagreed.

“This is not the end of it,” he said. “You don’t shoot someone in the back twice.”

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