Legal notice provides more details into deadly Atlanta police encounter

GBI sent case to Fulton DA’s office for review
Ricky Dorado, 33, died last year during an encounter with police at a southwest Atlanta gas station. The city council could vote next week to settle the case for nearly $4 million.

Credit: Obituary photo

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Ricky Dorado, 33, died last year during an encounter with police at a southwest Atlanta gas station. The city council could vote next week to settle the case for nearly $4 million.

Credit: Obituary photo

A man who died in Atlanta police custody last year was handcuffed face-down for more than 15 minutes as at least a dozen officers stood by, according to a legal notice sent to the city earlier this year.

In February, attorneys for the family of Ricardo Dorado Jr. submitted an ante litem notice informing the city of Atlanta and its police department of their intent to sue. The letter alleges that after the 33-year-old father of four was handcuffed at a southwest Atlanta gas station, one officer kept his knee on the small of Dorado’s back while another held his feet up “in the hogtied position.”

“Officers kept him in the prone position for roughly 15-to-20 minutes,” wrote Gabe Banks, lead attorney for Dorado’s family.

He said neither the other officers on scene nor their superiors ever tried to intervene “despite the fact that Mr. Dorado was being restrained in the prone position, on concrete, handcuffed (and) hogtied.”

One officer placed a knee on Dorado’s arm while another jammed “the full weight of his body” into the man’s back, according to the notice.

The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Dorado’s death a homicide, caused by prone restraint cardiac arrest. The investigator also noted he had methamphetamine in his system at the time and that he’d been struck in the head by officers’ batons during their attempts to detain him.

The medical examiner’s report said Dorado, who had “a history of schizophrenia and methamphetamine use, was reportedly exhibiting an altered mental status while assaulting others and damaging property.”

A police incident report described Dorado’s action as “being violent and tumultuous in nature due to illegal drug use.”

Atlanta could pay nearly $4 million if the full city council votes to settle the case at its Oct. 2 meeting. The council’s public safety committee passed a resolution Monday paving the way for the settlement. The initial notice sent to the city sought $17.5 million in damages.

“The misconduct of several police officers employed by the City of Atlanta resulted in Ricky’s untimely death. He was unarmed, and his death was completely preventable,” the family’s attorneys said in a statement. “While the parties have reached an agreement in principle, that agreement is still subject to the approval of the entire City Council and Mayor. The death of Ricky has been extremely difficult on the Dorado family. As such, they have requested that everyone respect their privacy as they continue to grieve his death.”

Officers were called to the BP along Windsor Street about 3 a.m. on Aug. 21, 2022, after receiving reports of a man vandalizing vehicles and gas pumps.

Police unsuccessfully tried to subdue Dorado with Tasers and pepper spray, the report said. At some point, Dorado reportedly took an officer’s radio and swung it at officers, it said. Dorado locked himself in a bathroom and after officers opened the door, he came out “swinging and kicking,” according to the report. Police wrote he grabbed several bottles of wine from the store’s shelves and hurled them at officers, who reportedly struck him with their city-issued batons.

The Atlanta Police Department, which typically makes note of its use-of-force cases and homicide investigations, made no mention of Dorado’s death on its public affairs website.

The department said late Tuesday that the GBI was requested to investigate and that the Atlanta Police Department has opened an internal probe. Three officers involved were placed on administrative assignment pending the outcome of the investigations, a department spokesman said.

Officials also declined to release body camera footage from the 2022 incident, citing the ongoing investigations. Banks alleged in his February notice that the city “has taken intentional steps to cover this incident up and keep it in the dark.”

The GBI confirmed Tuesday that the agency investigated the incident and turned over its file to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office last month. After prosecutors received the case, the DA’s office arranged for the family’s lawyers to view the body camera footage of several officers.

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