Cobb officer shot at unarmed teen 8 times, officials say

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A Cobb County officer-involved shooting that left a teenager with an injury to his upper thigh was deemed justifiable by a grand jury, authorities said.

Newly released footage shows former officer James Caleb Elliot firing eight shots at a 16-year-old after the cop pulled him and three others over in a stolen car, according to a release from Cobb County officials.

Police said Elliot was on a Nov. 6, 2016, suspicious vehicle call when he discovered the car, driven by the teen, was involved in a carjacking and asked everyone inside to step out. The teen, who has not been identified, stepped out of the car and ran from the scene, leading the officer on a chase, Cobb County police Sgt. Dana Pierce said.

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“The officer gave verbal commands for the suspect to stop or he would fire his weapon,” Pierce said.

The chase continued and Elliot pulled his weapon and fired shots, including one that landed in the teen’s upper thigh. He arrested the teen, administered first aid and called for medical assistance, Pierce said.

Cobb County police Chief Mike Register said the bodycam footage allowed them to implement changes to the department’s use of force and firearms training.

Video shows a Cobb County officer firing eight shots at a 16-year-old during a Nov. 6, 2016 chase. (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

“The changes in training were made to address some of the issues associated with this incident which will assist officers in the future to make better decisions when faced with similar situations,” Register said.

Register said he wants to ensure the totality of the situation is considered in future incidents, including the environmental influences and the safety of the officer, suspect and the community.

Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds told Channel 2 Action News the grand jury recommended no charges against Elliot and called it a close call, but the attorney for the teen’s mom disagrees.

“Those bullets landed everywhere,” Tanya Miller told the news station. “For lack of a better word. I mean this is a residential neighborhood.”

Miller said her client’s son shouldn’t have been behind the wheel and wasn’t connected to the alleged carjacking, but that he was scared.

“(He) did what kids do who panic, he tried to run home,” she said, “and he didn’t make it home.”

But Elliot’s lawyer, Lance LoRusso, said it’s much more complicated.

"Law enforcement don’t get to choose where confrontations occur,” he told Channel 2. “Therefore, they don't get to choose where they use deadly force.”