On the day of Jimmy Atchison’s funeral, questions persist about his death last week at the hands of a veteran Atlanta police officer.
Atchison, according to family members, was unarmed and hiding in a closet when investigator Sung Kim, working with an FBI task force, shot him once in the face. A warrant had been issued for the 21-year-old’s arrest in connection with an alleged armed robbery.
The NAACP on Monday requested a meeting with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and police Chief Erika Shields to discuss Atchison’s death and another recent controversial officer-involved shooting. In that case, an off-duty Atlanta police officer shot and killed D’Ettrick Griffin, 18, after the suspect allegedly attempted to steal his unmarked police vehicle.
While no face-to-face meeting has been scheduled, the chief spoke by phone Monday with Richard Rose, president of the NAACP’s Atlanta chapter, according to a statement from APD.
Shields “expressed her sympathies to the Atchison family for their profound loss” and informed him that Kim, who joined the force in 1993, “has been relieved of duty, and will no longer be working in his role as a police officer at least until the results of the investigation are known,” the statement read.
That investigation is being led by the FBI. The GBI, which normally provides such oversight, is not involved in the probe into Atchison’s death, agency spokeswoman Nelly Miles said
“What we fight all the time is the presumption of criminality that no doubt played a role in (Atchison)’s death,” Rose said. “This case was an overreaction from the beginning.”
Heavily armed task force members served the warrant in the early morning hours of Jan. 22 at the Allen Hills Apartments in northwest Atlanta. Atchison, seeing the officers at the door, fled on foot.
“He jumped out of a window of one of the apartments, jumped down a couple of floors,” FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said. “There was a foot chase that ensued into another apartment building, into another apartment. That’s where the suspect was confronted by a task force officer on the (Atlanta Metro Major Offender) task force, and the suspect was eventually shot and killed.”
Attorney Tanya Miller, who represents the dead man’s family, said Atchison ended up in a friend’s apartment.
“No guns were recovered from the scene,” she said. “If (Atchison) had a weapon, don’t you think that would’ve come out first thing?”
The FBI won’t say whether the suspect was armed. Rowson declined to comment on the investigation of the shooting.
Miller said she expects to receive Atchison’s autopsy results next week.
Atchison’s funeral was Thursday, and a candlelight vigil in his memory is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday outside Atlanta City Hall. An aspiring musician, Atchison leaves behind two young children.
His aunt, Tammy Featherstone, acknowledged he had some troubles with the law.
“Regardless, if you’re chasing him, if he’s running, there’s no need to shoot him,” she said.