Man sentenced to life after killing ‘innocent bystander’ over stolen car

Benjamin Bradley
Benjamin Bradley

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

A man will spend the rest of his life in prison after being convicted of fatally shooting an “innocent bystander” days after his car was stolen from an Atlanta gas station parking lot.

Benjamin Bradley, 46, was sentenced to life plus 15 years in the death of 23-year-old Dequavious Harris almost two years ago, according to Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard.

Howard said when Bradley’s car was stolen, he confronted a group of people in the gas station and ended up shooting Harris to death.

“None of the people inside or outside the store had anything to do with Bradley’s stolen car,” Howard said.

Bradley and his girlfriend were at a Shell station on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive on Jan. 14, 2018. The couple were in Atlanta from Louisiana to obtain a copy of Bradley’s commercial driver’s license, which he originally earned in Georgia, Howard said.

Bradley left his car running because it was cold outside, prosecutors said. While they were inside, someone stole the car, Howard said. All of Bradley’s belongings, including his wallet and cellphone, were in the car.

Bradley was allowed to look at the gas station’s surveillance video. He went back to the Shell repeatedly over the next 24 hours trying to identify the person who stole his car, Howard said. The next day, Bradley told his girlfriend, “Before I leave Atlanta, someone is going to feel my pain,” according to Howard.

Howard said Bradley called a friend who lived in Clayton County and told him about the stolen car. He, his friend and another man went back to the Shell in a white vehicle hours later.

Bradley went into the gas station and confronted three people about the stolen car, Howard said. The men got into a verbal dispute that spilled into the parking lot, where several other people were standing, he said.

Bradley left the station in the white vehicle, but came back two minutes later and opened fire on the group standing outside, Howard said. A bullet hit Harris in the head, killing him. Another bystander, Ricky Davis, was hit in the arm but survived his injuries, Howard said.

Bradley left the scene of the shooting but was arrested six days later in Clayton County, Howard said.

Bradley was convicted of murder, felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

In other news: 

That distracted driver was a Gwinnett County police officer and a Grand Theft Auto video was playing in his car at the time.