Atlanta officer remains in hospital after being shot 6 times; suspect denied bond

Fugitive was on probation, was wanted in October incident
Atlanta police Officer David Rodgers was shot Monday. He remains at Grady Memorial Hospital. (Credit: Atlanta Police Department)

Credit: Atlanta Police Department

Credit: Atlanta Police Department

Atlanta police Officer David Rodgers was shot Monday. He remains at Grady Memorial Hospital. (Credit: Atlanta Police Department)

The 22-year-old man accused of shooting an Atlanta police officer multiple times Monday afternoon was already on probation when he was allegedly involved in a robbery in October, records show.

Officer David Rodgers, an 11-year veteran of the department and member of its gang unit, was trying to arrest Christian Eppinger at the Colonial Square Apartment Homes along Old Hapeville Road around 1:15 p.m. Monday when he was shot six times and seriously injured, police said.

He was struck four times in the right shoulder, once above his right knee and once on the back right side of his head, officers noted in Eppinger’s arrest warrant. Rodgers was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he is said to be stable.

“He’s able to communicate with his coworkers. He’s able to communicate with his family,” Atlanta police Deputy Chief Darin Schierbaum said during Monday’s news conference. “He will have a long road through recovery.”

Eppinger was taken to the Fulton County jail, where he faces a slew of charges, including aggravated assault and aggravated battery against a peace officer, willful obstruction of law enforcement and six counts of participating in gang-related criminal activity.

He appeared before a Fulton County judge via Zoom on Tuesday morning, according to Channel 2 Action News. During the hearing, his attorney, Natalie Fiacco, noted Eppinger has no adult criminal history and is a soon-to-be father. Prosecutor RuShandra Davenport, however, argued that Eppinger should remain in custody because he is a documented gang member and had been wanted on armed robbery and aggravated assault charges stemming from the October incident.

The judge denied his bond.

Christian Eppinger was denied bond Tuesday.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

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Credit: Channel 2 Action News

“This department will not be deterred. What happened today is the challenge that we are against here in Atlanta and in cities across the country,” Schierbaum said Monday. “Police officers are being assaulted at record levels across the country.”

Police were seeking to arrest Eppinger for an Oct. 12 armed robbery during which he and another man allegedly demanded jewelry from a man in a park at 47 Cleveland Avenue, according to an incident report. The two suspects held the victim at gunpoint — one firearm pointed at his head, the other at his ribs — and demanded his diamond earrings, diamond and gold necklace, two iPhones and car keys. The suspects then jumped into the victim’s car and fled.

Eppinger is described by police as a known member of the Young Slime Life gang, a local subset of a street gang known as Sex Money Murder, which is itself a subset of the Bloods criminal street gang, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

In an arrest warrant, investigators noted Young Slime Life gang members are known to deal illegal narcotics and commit armed robberies and aggravated assaults “to financially support and proliferate the gang and to gain notoriety, respect and (to) intimidate others.”

After Monday’s shooting, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens visited Rodgers at the hospital.

“As soon as I found out, I was like, ‘Take me to Grady, let me go meet the officer,’” Dickens said Tuesday. “When I came in, he maybe had only been there 15 minutes and I got to see him with the doctors trying to see what range of motion he had in his arms and legs and all that. And he was tough. He was strong.”

Rodgers’ gang unit colleagues set up a GoFundMe account for him Tuesday with the goal of raising $200,000. More than $16,000 had been donated within 21 hours.

“This is a time we come together in support of Officer D. Rodgers who notably takes pride in his profession day in and day out,” officers wrote on the fundraising page. “He not only serves and protects his community, but he cares about the quality of work he displays. Let’s show him the same love and support.”

The Atlanta Police Department said it is not the organizer of the campaign.

An Atlanta police officer was shot multiple times Monday afternoon in southwest Atlanta.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

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Credit: Channel 2 Action News

At the time of the October robbery, Eppinger had been on probation for a series of felonies with which he was charged as a minor in 2016, according to online court records. Those included robbery, carjacking, aggravated assault, fleeing arrest and third-degree cruelty to children.

He served five years in the Georgia Department of Corrections system and was scheduled to serve six years of probation, court records show.

Upon his release in May 2021, he reported as instructed to the Atlanta probation field office and remained in an active supervision status, the Georgia Department of Community Supervision said in a statement. But he failed to report after the initial appointment.

“As such, a warrant was requested but had not been fully processed at the time of this incident (Monday),” the department said. “A preliminary review identified issues not consistent with our standards in the warrant process specific to this case that the department is currently addressing. Due to potential personnel action, no further details can or will be provided.”

By Monday, undercover Atlanta investigators had eyes on Eppinger as he and a woman made their way to two different chicken restaurants before he was dropped off near the Old Hapeville Road apartments, according to a warrant. Investigators requested help from uniformed officers in marked police vehicles, and Rodgers was the first to arrive.

He loudly commanded Eppinger to get on the ground, but Eppinger instead pushed Rodgers and shot him before Rodgers could draw his stun gun, the warrant states. Another officer returned fire, and Eppinger fired shots back in that officer’s direction, but neither the second officer nor Eppinger were injured, according to the warrant.

Eppinger then fled but was spotted within minutes running behind a building and forcing his way into an apartment, the warrant states. He was arrested a few minutes later.

The GBI has been asked to investigate the incident. It’s the ninth officer-involved shooting the state agency has been asked to investigate this year. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also tracks officer-involved shootings that don’t involve the GBI, and those numbers sometimes differ from the GBI’s tally.

Dickens said he helped put the officer’s family in a hotel near the hospital. Being close “has been helpful to them because with COVID you can only let so many people in at a time, which was tough to manage, but they’ve been supportive,” Dickens said.

“He’s a tough guy and I’m praying for him and rooting for (him),” he said.

— Staff writer Wilborn P. Nobles II contributed to this article.

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