Jamarion Robinson’s mom wants him to be ‘face’ of movement

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The 26-year-old was killed in a police shooting in 2016

For the last five years, Monteria Robinson has thought, talked and, when she felt necessary, hollered about her firstborn’s death.

On Aug. 5, 2016, Jamarion Robinson, 26, died when members of a federal task force shot him 59 times in his girlfriend’s apartment in East Point. An autopsy revealed 76 bullet wounds. The officers wore no body cameras.

At the time, a U.S. Marshals Service spokesman said officers were trying to serve warrants on Robinson from Atlanta and Gwinnett County. One warrant was from a week earlier, when Jamarion Robinson was accused of pointing a gun at Atlanta police before fleeing. Later in East Point, task force members said he shot at them as they tried to arrest him.

Former Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard sued the U.S. Department of Justice over the case, saying the department refused to release documents and kept his investigators from interviewing officers involved in the fatal shooting. Shortly after taking office in January, current DA Fani Willis said she’d tasked her Anti-Corruption Unit with making charging decisions in the case.

“In any case, whether it involved the police or didn’t involve the police, it’s a very long time for a family to have to wait – five years,” Willis said last week. “And we want to try to avoid that and be very diligent.”

Countless times since her son died, Monteria Robinson has run down the list of reasons why she believes the officers should be charged, including alleged inconsistencies in their statements and the evidence.

Last month, a Fulton County grand jury gave her a measure of vindication, indicting two members of the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force on charges including murder and making false statements.

“I knew I was gonna have to be able to tell the story of what happened to Jamarion,” Monteria Robinson said this week. “I’m ready to just have peace of mind. I want some peace.”

Attorneys for Eric Heinze and Kristopher Hutchens said they aren’t guilty and plan a strong defense. Heinze is the assistant chief inspector with the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force. Hutchens is a Clayton County police officer who was working as a task force officer with the U.S. Marshals Service during the incident. Defense attorneys have said in court filings that their clients were acting lawfully as federal agents and should have immunity from prosecution.

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Monteria Robinson is prepared for a long legal process. It could last years, she knows.

But after talking so long about her son’s death, Robinson wants to talk about his life. She wants people to know he played football and studied political science at Tuskegee University and was the oldest of a clutch of cousins he grew up around.

“He was like their leader, they all looked up to him,” she said. “They all went to college because he went to college.”

She wants people to know that although Jamarion Robinson was diagnosed with schizophrenia a year before his death, she always knew him to be gentle when he struggled hardest.

When he was attending Clark Atlanta University, where he was a biology major, he’d see folks on the street, and would stop and ask how he could help. If they were hungry, Jamarion Robinson, sometimes with his mom at his side, would buy them something to eat.

Credit: Ben Gray for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Monteria Robinson wants people to know that in the months before her son’s death, he would take his mom, aunts or cousins in his arms and spin them around. Jamarion, they’d laugh, you’re so funny. They called him Jam or Daddy Daycare, his mom said, because he loved all the kids in the family and they loved him.

Monteria Robinson wants people to know not just that her son loved his family but that he loved them enough that he tattooed their names on his body. His mom, his grandmother, his nieces, his uncle, on and on. “All our names,” Monteria Robinson said, “were tattooed on his body.”

She wants her son’s story to help others. In August, Monteria Robinson founded the Jamarion Robinson Foundation. It’s new and still in development, but she said she intends to offer resources to families with mental health challenges. She said she doesn’t know if her son’s troubles contributed to the way the fatal shooting unfolded but wants to push for better training for police dealing with citizens battling mental health crises.

She intends to travel around speaking and advocating. She’ll tell about her son’s death, of course, but she will put a heavy emphasis on his life. She wants the foundation to be a source of comfort for hurting families and a force for positive change.

“I want my son to be the face,” she said.

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution