Rayshard Brooks’ family ‘unaware’ of any gang affiliation, lawyers say

Arrest warrant alleges Secoriea Turner killed by Bloods gang members
Second man arrested in connection with the death of Secoriea Turner

Second man arrested in connection with the death of Secoriea Turner

The 23-year-old Stone Mountain man charged in last summer’s shooting death of an 8-year-old girl was a gang member involved in uprisings to protest the shooting of a fellow Bloods member, Rayshard Brooks, according to a Fulton County arrest warrant.

Jerrion McKinney is charged with murder, four counts of aggravated assault, pointing a gun or pistol at another, and 12 gang-related offenses in the July 4, 2020, death of the rising third-grader Secoriea Turner. He was taken into custody by the GBI on Wednesday.

Turner was killed when the Jeep that she, her mother and a male driver were in encountered a street barricade near a burned-out Wendy’s in southwest Atlanta. It was where, less than a month earlier, Brooks had been fatally shot by an Atlanta police officer.

The GBI said in the warrant, “Prior investigation determined that Brooks was a member/associate of the Bloods criminal street gang.”

Lawyers Chris Stewart and Justin Miller, who represent Brooks’ surviving relatives, said the family has “no knowledge or information regarding any alleged gang affiliation of Rayshard Brooks.”

“Our goal from the beginning was to ensure that Mr. Brooks’ family got the answers they deserved as it relates to why he was shot in the back and killed by an Atlanta police officer when he was nearly 20 feet away and running in the opposite direction,” the attorneys said in a statement. “We will continue to pursue justice for Mr. Brooks with the goal that no other family suffer a similar tragedy. Our prayers are also with the family of Secoriea Turner as they continue to grieve and seek justice for their precious child.”

Brooks’ death led to widespread protests, mostly peaceful. But the barricade on Pryor Road near the intersection of University Avenue was anything but, the warrant states, with members of the Bloods seizing the area through the “brandishing, pointing and discharging of firearms at citizens and civilians to ensure compliance with their authority in a highly visible manner.”

The Bloods gang operated the area as an “autonomous zone,” according to the affidavit, prohibiting Atlanta police officers from entering.

On the evening of July 4, Secoriea, her mother and Omar Ivey, who was driving the Jeep, tried to go around the barricade. McKinney and Julian Conley, 19, were among the Bloods manning the blocked street. Conley, the affidavit states, “began to discharge his weapon, an AR-15 style rifle, striking the side and the back of the vehicle.” Secoriea was struck by a projectile in the head.

As Ivey sped away, McKinney chased the vehicle down the road, away from the area, the affidavit continues. Ivey rushed to the hospital where Secoriea was pronounced dead.

Conley was arrested less than two weeks later, charged with murder and three counts of aggravated assault.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday that additional arrests were possible. She expects indictments to be handed down within the next 10 days.

Willis said she invited the GBI to join the investigation, led by Atlanta police, about two months ago.

“They took the time and did the work,” she said. “Sometimes you know you need expertise. We were seeing things in the files that indicated to us that there was probably gang elements here and we thought it needed a deeper dive. (The GBI) has the gang task force and it just made sense to ask.”

McKinney was arrested in late October and spent nearly eight months in the Fulton County Jail on another aggravated assault charge stemming from an incident that occurred the day Turner was killed, online jail records show. He was released June 17 on $45,000 bond.

In June, Turner’s family filed a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta, its mayor and other leaders that they allege failed to protect their child’s life. The lawsuit, filed in Fulton County State Court, alleges city leaders were “negligent in their duties by failing to remove armed vigilantes who had gathered alongside peaceful protesters at the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed.”

The burned-out Wendy’s where Brooks was killed was demolished by a wrecking crew 10 days after Turner was killed. During a meeting with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s editorial board in the days that followed, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she planned to shut down the site weeks before the fatal shooting.

At that time, the mayor said she was allowing Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd more time to negotiate with demonstrators at the site.

The lawsuit alleges that in allowing that action, Bottoms, Sheperd and police Chief Rodney Bryant failed to protect Atlanta’s residents and “directly and proximately led to Secoriea’s death, which was foreseeable and avoidable.”

— AJC staff writer Shaddi Abusaid contributed to this article.