The boyfriend of a Clark Atlanta University student, who was paralyzed during a 2018 shooting, has been arrested in connection with the crime, authorities said.
Jamal Ira Benjamin, 21, of Jackson, was taken into custody Jan. 23 on three felony charges in the Sept. 25, 2018, shooting of 19-year-old Daeja Craddick, Atlanta police told AJC.com. He faces counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
However, he isn’t accused of shooting his girlfriend — he’s accused of trying to commit a robbery, leading to gunfire.
According to Atlanta police investigators’ notes obtained by AJC.com, Benjamin was on his way to rob Gabrielle S. Burnett, who they say allegedly sold marijuana near Clark Atlanta’s campus.
Craddick drove her boyfriend to the meeting place near Sells Avenue. However, she “didn’t know the robbery was going to occur,” said Chris Hopper, spokesman for the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.
At some point, Benjamin got out of Craddick’s Acura sedan, which is when things took a violent turn, according to the APD investigator notes. A gunshot was fired, hitting Craddick and causing her to jump a curb and crash her vehicle at the intersection of Lawton Street and Lucile Avenue.
She was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where it was determined that a bullet was lodged near her spine, paralyzing her, AJC.com previously reported.
After Burnett’s arrest in October 2018, police said a woman fired the gunshot, but authorities have now determined that Juan Robinson, 26, of Riverdale, fired the shot from inside Burnett’s vehicle, Hopper said.
Burnett, who is now 20, had her charges briefly dropped in October 2019 so prosecutors could amend her indictment to include Benjamin and Robinson, Hopper said.
All three were indicted on the same three charges Dec. 20, court records show. They face identical charges because they are “considered parties to a crime,” Hopper said.
Officers spotted Benjamin in the 100 block of Garnett Street about 4:30 p.m. Jan. 23, which led to his arrest without incident, according to an Atlanta police incident report.
Robinson remains on the loose.
Burnett is not wanted by authorities since her charges did not change and she had already paid her $50,000 bond.
Burnett’s attorney, Tanya Miller, provided a statement following her client’s re-indictment, which said she maintains her innocence.
“She has never fired a gun and had no part in the shooting of Daeja Craddick,” the statement continued. “This is a terribly tragic situation for all parties involved. In light of the highly sensitive nature of these proceedings and the fact that charges against (Burnett) are still pending, we will not comment further at this time.”
AJC.com has reached out to Benjamin’s attorney and Craddick’s parents but did not hear back before publication.
Zachary Hansen, a Georgia native, covers economic development and commercial real estate for the AJC. He's been with the newspaper since 2018 and enjoys diving into complex stories that affect people's lives.