DA, police chief want bond reconsidered for suspect accused of shooting officer

Christian Eppinger was granted $395K bond but will remain in custody

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

A Fulton County judge on Monday granted bond for an alleged gang member accused of shooting and seriously wounding an Atlanta police officer earlier this year, but the man will not be getting out of jail.

Christian Eppinger, 22, has been in custody since the Feb. 7 shooting, totaling 73 days behind bars. Magistrate Court Judge Alexandra Manning cited the number of days when setting a $330,000 bond in the police shooting case and ordering that Eppinger wear a county-funded ankle monitor if he is released.

But Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis reassured the public that Eppinger, despite having been granted bond, will not be released due to a hold imposed by the Superior Court following his probation revocation for a 2016 series of violent felonies.

Under Georgia law, defendants have a right to a grand jury hearing within 90 days of their arrest, or they have a right to bail. Since Eppinger’s case has not been indicted, Manning granted his release on the condition he stay out of Fulton County, be subjected to 24-hour supervision and steer clear of drugs and guns.

Willis and Atlanta police Chief Rodney Bryant took offense to the decision to grant Eppinger bail so early in the process, noting that 90 days had not been reached.

“It is the position of the state that that individual should not have been given a bond based on his history, based on where he was within the process here in Fulton County,” Willis said, adding that she doesn’t think the judge is at fault, but instead the current process by which Fulton County ensures state law requirements are met.

Under that process, defendants go before a judge every six weeks. In Eppinger’s case, he would not have been back before a judge for another six weeks, which would have put him over 90 days without a bond, Willis explained.

“But that’s process over common sense,” she said. “What should have happened is the case should have been set down for 19 days. If the state had failed to indict him, at that point the judge would have to give him a bond by law.”

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Willis stressed that an indictment will be coming within the 90 days, noting they are taking time to collect and review all evidence so that it is “an indictment that is complete and holds him and others responsible for all of their actions.”

Eppinger had been released from prison in May 2021 after serving four years behind bars. He was scheduled to serve six more years on probation, but authorities said he was involved in an Oct. 12 armed robbery for which police were attempting to arrest him during the February shooting.

As a result of that incident, Eppinger’s probation was revoked and he now faces a sentencing hearing next week in which he could get up to 60 years in jail, Willis said. He also faces multiple additional charges, including criminal attempt to commit murder and aggravated assault on an officer, after allegedly shooting Atlanta police Officer David Rodgers six times in February.

Credit: Atlanta Police Department

Credit: Atlanta Police Department

Rodgers, an 11-year APD veteran and member of the gang unit, was struck four times in the right shoulder, once above his right knee and once on the back right side of his head, according to police. Another officer returned fire but did not hit Eppinger, according to the GBI, which is investigating the case.

“I want us to be clear that we’re not standing here in solidarity just because this was action against a police officer,” Bryant said Wednesday. “This was an action against our society as a whole. The officers represent the community, and when you strike out against the Atlanta Police Department — or any law enforcement officials who are standing in the gap — it’s a strike against our whole society. This is a most atrocious act of violence against our people when one strikes out at a police officer.”

Rodgers was attempting to arrest Eppinger for the October robbery. According to his arrest warrant, Eppinger and another man allegedly held a victim at gunpoint at a Cleveland Avenue park before making off with the victim’s diamond jewelry and car.

Eppinger was arrested minutes after the shooting when he was spotted forcing his way into a nearby apartment, according to his arrest warrant.

Rodgers is doing “quite well,” Bryant said.

“He still suffers from some level of pain that he continues to manage, but his spirit — to be honest with you, you’d have to see him,” Bryant added. “You’d have to talk to him to recognize that for someone to have that level of energy and spirit, God was with him that day.”

Eppinger, described by police as a known member of the Young Slime Life Gang, has a lengthy criminal history dating to 2016 when he was just 16 years old. Charges in that case included robbery, carjacking, aggravated assault, fleeing arrest and third-degree cruelty to children.

“Because of a very, very kind victim, he was given what I would call a second chance,” Willis said. “When he got out, though, he did not choose to do the right thing.”

Upon his release in May 2021, Eppinger initially reported as instructed to the Atlanta probation field office, but then failed to report to any subsequent appointments with his probation officer.

A warrant should have been issued for Eppinger’s arrest well before the October robbery, but it was never fully processed, according to the Georgia Department of Community Supervision.

“A preliminary review identified issues not consistent with our standards in the warrant process specific to this case that the department is currently addressing,” the agency said in a February statement.

Eppinger is also facing numerous charges in the October armed robbery case, which was also considered during Monday’s bond hearing. Manning set a $65,000 bond on those charges, bringing Eppinger’s total bond amount to $395,000.

He remained in the Fulton County Jail on Wednesday.