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Atlanta Prosecutor Sues DOJ For Blocking Investigation Of Incident Where Cops Shot A Man 59 Times

from the 92-bullets,-875-days dept

A case that involves some shocking numbers has resulted in a lawsuit against the DOJ. An investigation into a raid that ended with law enforcement officers putting 59 bullets into the body of an Atlanta resident has dead-ended and it appears to be because the DOJ doesn’t want to talk about it.

Jamarion Robinson, a 26-year-old student and football player at Clark Atlanta University, was shot and killed by a team of local and federal officers who broke down the door to his girlfriend’s apartment on Aug. 5, 2016, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Atlanta federal court by the office of Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard.   

The DA says he has repeatedly attempted to work with the DOJ to obtain the personnel files and training materials of the officers responsible for Robinson’s death, all to no avail.

“It has now been 875 days since the officers killed Mr. Robinson, and the DOJ has yet to provide any of the documents or evidence requested and has failed to provide any investigative reports relating to Mr. Robinson’s death,” the complaint states.

The opening of the DA’s lawsuit [PDF] doesn’t explain what Atlanta prosecutors did for the first 275 days, but it does point out the DOJ has been blocking this investigation for nearly two years at this point.

Having been stymied for more than 600 days from receiving any documents from the Department of Justice related to the shooting of Jamarion Robinson, Plaintiff Office of the Fulton County District Attorney (“Plaintiff” or “the District Attorney”) brings this action against Defendant United States Department of Justice (“Defendant” or “the DOJ”) to compel compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 (“FOIA”).

This FOIA lawsuit is only part of the federal government’s problems. The family of Jamarion Robinson has also sued the officers involved in the shooting, which includes the US Marshals Service. This lawsuit appears to be on hold at the moment as everyone suing over the shooting attempts to obtain documents related to Robinson’s killing.

The numbers mentioned above — 59 bullet holes, 600 days of DOJ stonewalling — are just part of the picture. There’s also the number of officers involved and the number of bullets expended to take the life of someone law enforcement apparently had little reason to suspect might respond violently.

On August 5, 2016, 14 law enforcement officers from eight separate local municipal police departments, along with at least one United States Marshal, traveled to the Parkside Camp Creek Luxury Apartments in Atlanta, Georgia to execute a State of Georgia arrest warrant for Jamarion Robinson (hereinafter “Mr. Robinson”). The state arrest warrant alleged that Mr. Robinson committed an aggravated assault in violation of Georgia Code Annotated 16-5-21, a state crime. Mr. Robinson was not charged with any federal crime, and there was not a federal arrest warrant pending for Mr. Robinson.

The DA’s lawsuit notes Robinson’s only legal problem up to this point was a traffic violation. It also points out Robinson suffered from schizophrenia, which might explain his uncharacteristic decision to allegedly point a gun at police officers (and three tenants of a nearby apartment) days before he was gunned down in his apartment. Supposedly, Robinson fired a shot (or three shots… depending on which statement you read) at the officers attempting to serve a warrant which apparently justified this response.

[T]he officers knocked down the door to the apartment and immediately commenced firing approximately 51 shots from outside into the apartment without any known provocation and with reckless disregard for the safety of anyone else in the apartment and surrounding apartment units.

The officers then entered the apartment and fired approximately 41 additional shots from weapons, including a 9mm submachine gun, a .40mm submachine gun, and a .40 Glock pistol.

After officers fired more than 90 bullets into Robinson’s apartment, some claimed Robinson fired at them first. But statements made by other officers and the results of the ensuing search punch holes in this narrative.

At the conclusion of the shooting, a firearm was located, which the officers claimed that Mr. Robinson fired at them three times. However, when the firearm was recovered, it was damaged and inoperable. Moreover, in an investigative report completed by Officer Steve Schreckengost, he did not state that the officers entered the premises because Mr. Robinson was shooting. Rather, Officer Schreckengost claims they entered to protect others inside the apartment from Mr. Robinson, although it was clear from their surveillance no one else was in the apartment.

They wanted to “protect” others from Robinson, but no one involved was interested in Robinson’s safety. The team of officers was aware of Robinson’s mental health issues and had spoken to his family prior to the raid. But not a single member of the 14-person, multi-office “task force” did anything that might have resulted in a peaceful arrest, like ask for advice, assistance, or third-party search consent from Robinson’s family or his current roommate.

Six hundred days of DOJ stonewalling roughly aligns with the agency’s reshuffled priorities following Trump’s presidential win. The incoming AG (Jeff Sessions) yanked funding from the DOJ’s civil rights department and said the agency would no longer be investigating the actions of local law enforcement. If there are any documents to be obtained from the DOJ, they’re likely in the process of being massaged into exonerative shape before being released.

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Comments on “Atlanta Prosecutor Sues DOJ For Blocking Investigation Of Incident Where Cops Shot A Man 59 Times”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

'Documents? No idea what you mean.'

If there are any documents to be obtained from the DOJ, they’re likely in the process of being massaged into exonerative shape before being released.

Assuming they aren’t accidentally deleted by a ‘computer glitch’ or ‘routine maintenance’ anyway. The fact that they are completely stonewalling like this leads me to suspect that they are hiding some pretty damning information, and I wouldn’t put it past them to destroy it before it can be pried loose.

Anonymous Coward says:

i’ll bet a dime to a dollar that every member of ‘law enforcement’ was laughing their asses off at what was going on, especially every time they pulled a trigger! how can any officer justify anything that happened here, let alone firing the number of shots they did and actually hitting someone with 59 bullets? this puts a complete new meaning to the term ‘overkill’! what is it with police officers that makes them think that killing someone is their God given right? why does a person have to be killed, rather than arrested? why not just disarm the ‘perp’? a single bullet does that, making the person unable to be a threat, be ‘arrestable’ but still be alive. this fixation with killing every person that is even suspected of wrong doing is pretty disgraceful! and then expect to get away without even having to answer any questions, let alone go to court! any wonder confidence in law enforcement is at an all time low? no one dare report anything/anyone to them in case they get shot to death!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

With that number of armed officers, one shot will unleash a fusillade, as many trigger fingers twitch to the noise of a shot, and that cause more shots to be fired because the number of shots already fired indicate a serious problem. Getting everybody to stop firing becomes a problem, especially of there is no organized tactical command, which appears common when officers from multiple units are involved.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: It does smack of a mob-style hit.

They are the Blue Line Gang. The biggest gang in the country. Nothing but a bunch of Nazi Thug PIGS!!! Just more of a very, very long list of inexcusable behavior. They know they can get away with it. Just look at the in your face coverup going on in this case. They just don’t care.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Charge them with murder

They are all on the side of the thin blue line that allows people free passes for killing others. Unless you have overwhelming evidence of the specific person being the single killer, ever one of them would get off with nothing on their records. They laughed and boasted about what they were going to do before they even got to his door. Then they killed him. Sounds like a lynching to me.

k><>l says:

Re: Charge them with murder

Yup — that Georgia DA should formally indict those LEO’s or shut up.

Seeking the personnel records of those LEO’s is stupid — they are not evidence of the crime, even if completely turned over to that DA.

Obviously that DA totally lacks “primary” evidence of a crime and can not succeed in court.

Prosecuting any LEO’s anywhere is unusual and rarely successful. DA needs at least one of those LEO’s to come clean and testify against the shooters. That ain’t gonna happen.

Justice fails frequently in the American system.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Read for content...

Look at what’s in the article. Forget the “numbers”, look at what it *says*.

This is a Prosecutor suing the DoJ for FOIA paperwork.

Not a Defense Attorney. A State Prosecutor.

Fourteen officers from EIGHT jurisdictions, including “at least one Federal Marshal”.

To serve an Ag Assault warrant? A Task Force doesn’t get assigned to people who have a police record of a single traffic ticket.

Not only is it a task force, but according to the article at least two full automatic weapons, a 9mm and a .40, were issued to the officers tasked with executing the Warrant. That’s a ton of paperwork, and not something done for a simple aggravated assault warrant pickup.

HAS the DoJ stonewalled them, or simply claimed they don’t have anything? They will not release any information on anyone in the Marshal Service. What could they have on members of seven local jurisdictions?

Did the Prosecutor file fourteen requests, one for each involved officer, or a single filing? If it was a single filing, he’s not going to get an answer other than “this is fourteen requests misfiled as one”.

The story here is what lead up to a Marshal and seven police jurisdictions being issued automatic weapons to execute a simple arrest warrant, not that a Prosecutor can’t get records from the DoJ that they likely don’t even have.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Read for content...


Also: Why is the DoJ the apparent repository of responsive documents here? What the hell about every other police force involved? One US Marshal, and … the DoJ just took everything connected?

Further, when cops fire that many rounds, do they ever consider that shit like gypsum board does not stop a fucking bullet?

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Read for content...

This is a Prosecutor filing suit. He has Subpoena Powers. As does the Judge presiding. WHY is an FOIA suit being filed? If the DoJ is ignoring the Court, we’re into an entire new realm of the system itself.

Consider that there are fourteen LEO’s, spanning seven police jurisdictions and a Federal Marshal involved.

Nobody likes cops. Especially other cops. Cops themselves especially despise anyone with power over them – like Federal Marshals.

WHAT caused the formation of this supposed “Task Force” to serve a STATE-issued Warrant for an Ag-Assault Arrest?

SOMETHING had seven Police Captains (or higher) order these officers to work with the other jurisdictions?

WHY was a Federal Marshal involved at all?

WHO issued submachineguns to these officers? That isn’t something done lightly – I don’t think I’ve ever even heard a rumor of such being done before, even when SWAT teams were involved.

We’ll likely never know – this reeks of “national security” being behind it. I can’t think of any other power that would force so many jurisdictions to work together over something so apparently banal.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Read for content...

With 8 separate municipal agencies, plus one federal agency, this is a good question. Why is the DOJ holding all the responsive documents, or better put, why did not the DA go after those 8 other agencies for their documents? There is a possibility that the DOJ swept in and confiscated all such documents, but if they did, under what authority did they do so?

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