Investigator Sung Kim joined the Atlanta Police Department in 1993. He has been reassigned to administrative duty following his fatal shooting of 21-year-old Atlanta man Jimmy Atchison on January 22, 2019. (photo: Atlanta Police Department)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

APD officer in task force shooting accused of excessive force before

Atlanta police officer Sung Kim, under investigation for fatally shooting an unarmed man while assigned to a federal fugitive task force, had received previous complaints for alleged careless or overzealous behavior while serving arrest warrants.

The previous complaints against Kim were not sustained, meaning evidence was insufficient to prove or disprove the allegations of misconduct, according to personnel documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through an open records request. In those cases, no one was seriously injured.

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It’s still unclear why Kim shot and killed Jimmy Atchison, whom he found hiding in a closet at a friend’s apartment in northwest Atlanta after the armed robbery suspect led police on a brief chase. Atchison, wanted for stealing a cell phone, had fled on foot after heavily armed FBI task force members appeared at his door on Jan. 22. The FBI is investigating the shooting.

Kim joined APD in 1993. In that time he has been the subject of two citizen complaints, neither sustained, and six internal investigations, including the Atchison case, according to his personnel file.He was orally admonished in 1995 for his conduct and appearance in as a court witness and again in 1996 for improper operation of a city vehicle.

Otherwise, his record is clean.

Still, two cases stand out. The first occurred in 1999, while executing a search warrant for illegal narcotics. Another officer on the scene said Kim shot eight times at an approaching Rottweiler. Kim kept firing despite being ordered to stop, fellow officer Roderick Anderson said, adding that he was in Kim’s line of fire at the time. He was hit by three bits of shrapnel.

Kim said the dog was “very aggressive, showing his teeth, snarling” when he fired “one or two times at the canine. Kim said Anderson also shot at the dog, and missed. “Investigator Kim stated he waited until the last minute as the dog was about to pounce on him before he shot the dog,” according to the APD internal affairs report.

Investigators concluded that Kim and Anderson, who offered conflicting accounts, did not take into consideration the possibility of fragmentation or ricochets when their shots struck concrete near the dog. Kim and two other officers were also hit with shrapnel.

In 2013, Kim and two other APD officers were accused of entering a funeral home, “aiming weapons at visitors,” according to a a witness, while failing to identify themselves as law enforcement. They were there to arrest a fugitive as he attended his mother’s viewing.

Internal affairs ruled the amount of force used in the arrest was “reasonable and necessary, and there are no facts to prove or disprove the allegations.”

After Atchison’s death, Kim was placed on paid administrative duty, stripped of police powers pending the outcome of the investigations into his conduct.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said last week he is also launching an investigation into the shooting.

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