An Atlanta couple whose 17-year-old son was shot in the back and killed last December say they want the security guard alleged to have fired the fatal bullet charged in the teen's death.
"This is very Trayvon Martin-like," Chris Chestnut, the attorney representing Bernard Arnold and Andrea Robinson, said at a news conference Tuesday in which the family demanded that Atlanta police arrest the security guard.
Martin was an unarmed Florida teen, also 17, shot and killed after allegedly scuffling with community watch coordinator George Zimmerman.
But 17-year-old Canard Arnold's case seems to have more in common with the recent shooting of an 18-year-old by a security guard in DeKalb County who, according to Chestnut, is employed by the same firm: Shepperson Security & Escort Services in Kennesaw.
Shepperson is already under investigation by the state board that oversees security guard companies following the March 24 shooting of Ervin Jefferson in front of his mother's home on Pleasantwood Drive.
The guard, Curtis Scott, told DeKalb police he left his post at the Village at Wesley Chapel Apartments to investigate a "suspicious vehicle" and shot Jefferson, who was unarmed, because he approached him in a "threatening manner." Jefferson was unarmed.
In the case of Canard Arnold, witnesses said the 17-year-old was involved in an "escalating gun battle" off Myrtle Drive in southwest Atlanta when armed security officer Christopher Hambrick intervened, APD spokesman Carlos Campos told the AJC.
Anthony Hines, 22, was exchanging gunfire with Arnold before the teen was shot by Hambrick, authorities said. Hines was arrested and charged with felony murder for his role in the gunfight. A weapon that had been discharged four times was found near Arnold's body, Atlanta police said.
It's unclear whether Hambrick, employed at a neighboring apartment complex, was responding to shots fired or merely caught in the crossfire, as he told investigators. Campos said the guard told police he "feared for his life" when he shot Arnold.
But Chestnut painted a different picture of Hambrick, who in his Facebook profile describes himself as a security guard and bounty hunter who aspired to be a police officer.
"This is someone who shouldn't have been hired as a security guard," said Chestnut, adding that witnesses interviewed by his office contend Hambrick's life was never threatened.
Private investigator Eric Echols, who works for Chestnut, said he spoke with several residents of the neighborhood who said Hambrick, who is white, was typically belligerent when dealing with young African-American males.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, who declined to prosecute Hambrick, said the decision was made following a "thorough investigation" by APD officers.
"At this time, it appears to us the actions of the security guard were justified," Howard said in a statement. "However, if subsequent evidence reveals intentions to the contrary, as in every case, the District Attorney's Office will be led by the facts."
Attempts to reach Hambrick and Shepperson Security were unsuccessful.
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