Family of teen killed by Cobb police files $150 million lawsuit

Vincent Truitt, 17, was shot and killed by Cobb County police following a chase in 2020. (Credit: Family photo)

Credit: Family Photo

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Vincent Truitt, 17, was shot and killed by Cobb County police following a chase in 2020. (Credit: Family photo)

Credit: Family Photo

The parents of a teenager killed by a Cobb County police officer have filed a lawsuit against the county and the officer who fired the fatal shots.

Vincent Truitt, 17, was shot twice in the back July 13, 2020, after a police chase near Six Flags Over Georgia ended behind a warehouse on Riverside Parkway.

The Atlanta teen jumped out of a stolen Nissan Altima with a gun, but appeared to be running away from Officer Max Karneol when he was shot, according to the officer’s body camera footage. A pistol was later recovered at the scene.

The $150 million wrongful death lawsuit, filed Jan. 11 in federal court, is believed to be the most money sought in a deadly police shooting in Georgia history, attorney Gerald Griggs said Wednesday.

The case was presented to a grand jury in February 2021. After deliberating for nearly eight hours, the grand jury decided Karneol was within his rights to use deadly force when he killed Truitt, Cobb County District Attorney Flynn Broady Jr. said.

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Hours after the decision not to charge Karneol, prosecutors showed a combination of surveillance, body camera and dash camera footage from the moments leading up to, and including, Truitt’s shooting. It was the first time the video had been made public.

Karneol didn’t appear to give any commands or instruct the teen to drop the weapon before opening fire, but Broady said the officer wasn’t required to based on his training.

“Each of our police agencies has a (standard operating procedure) for their use of force,” Broady said at the time. “Just following the law ... it says that if an officer is chasing a felon who has a weapon — who can pose a danger to others — he has the ability to fire, to use deadly force.

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“In this case, the officer followed his SOP to the letter and also followed the law,” Broady said.

Truitt’s family disagreed with the decision not charge the officer, arguing the teen was clearly running away when he was killed. According to the 30-page lawsuit, Truitt was picked up by a friend that evening and didn’t know the car was stolen.

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Truitt, the lawsuit states, “did not pose an imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm to (the officer) or anyone else when he was intentionally shot in the back.”

Attorney Jackie Patterson, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Truitt’s parents, said Cobb prosecutors never intended to charge the officer.

“From the moment Truitt exited the vehicle, he never even saw the officer,” Patterson said Wednesday. “He ran totally in the opposite direction and never threatened the officer in any way.”

Griggs said the police shooting was “absolutely unjustified.”

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Andrae Truitt, Vincent Truitt's father, holds a sign seeking justice for his son last year following a Cobb County grand jury's decision not to bring charges against the officer who fatally shot him.

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Andrae Truitt, Vincent Truitt's father, holds a sign seeking justice for his son last year following a Cobb County grand jury's decision not to bring charges against the officer who fatally shot him.

Credit: Daniel Varnado

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Andrae Truitt, Vincent Truitt's father, holds a sign seeking justice for his son last year following a Cobb County grand jury's decision not to bring charges against the officer who fatally shot him.

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Credit: Daniel Varnado

“We believe his actions were wholly unreasonable and violated Mr. Truitt’s constitutional rights,” Griggs said, adding Truitt’s parents are “anxious to get justice and accountability.”

“For far too long, his family has been hurting,” he said. “They’re hoping this lawsuit will be a step toward that justice and accountability.”

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Attorney Gerald Griggs is representing the family of Vincent Truitt.

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Attorney Gerald Griggs is representing the family of Vincent Truitt.

Credit: Jenni Girtman

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Attorney Gerald Griggs is representing the family of Vincent Truitt.

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Credit: Jenni Girtman

A county spokesman said Wednesday that Cobb officials intend to fight the lawsuit.

“We are aware that a lawsuit has been filed in federal court and will vigorously defend it.” Cobb spokesman Ross Cavitt said.