Grand jury will consider charges in police shooting case

DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James will present a fatal police shooting case for possible criminal charges against an officer, based on the recommendation of a grand jury that reviewed six fatal police shootings.

James said Friday he has started giving grand juries the option of reviewing officer-involved shootings as a way to bring greater transparency and accountability to the criminal justice system.

The grand jury recommended in its report Thursday that a case involving Avondale Estates Sgt. Lynn Thomas’ shooting of 20-year-old Jayvis Benjamin move forward for indictment.

Police have said Benjamin stole a car and was speeding before running a light and crashing, according to Channel 2 Action News. Police said Benjamin then attacked the officer, who shot him once in the chest.

James said that previously, the decision on whether to pursue an indictment of a police officer was solely in the hands of the district attorney, but citizens will now have a greater role through the grand jury process.

“People are very sensitive and emotional — as they should be — in this country about officer-involved shootings,” James said. “We made this decision with the advice of citizens. We added input from the people.”

Every future officer-involved shooting case will go through this process, James said. Grand jurors were educated on the law, use of force and police protocol.

The grand jury recommended that James not pursue an indictment in five other fatal shootings by police.

A separate grand jury will decide whether to indict Thomas, probably during its May or June term.

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