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Family wants Atlanta cop fired after deadly officer-involved shooting

Oscar Cain (Courtesy of LaShunda Campbell)
Oscar Cain (Courtesy of LaShunda Campbell)

One by one, loved ones for Oscar Cain — the community activist killed in an officer-involved shooting last month — walked to the podium at the Atlanta City Council’s public safety meeting Tuesday and demanded the Atlanta Police Department fire Officer Marquee Kelley after he failed to turn on his body-worn camera in the deadly shooting.

“I’m tired of the condolences,” Cain’s mother Jacqueline Sanders said before council members and Atlanta police Chief Erika Shields. “I appreciate it, but I want something to be done.”

Cain was shot and killed March 31 by Kelley on Connell Avenue, after authorities alleged he failed to comply with the officer’s commands and “brandished a firearm,” according to the GBI.

Following the shooting, Atlanta police took Kelley’s city-issued Glock and placed him on a three-day leave, which is standard after an officer fires a weapon. Kelley was then placed on administrative duty.

Shields had said she intended to return Kelley to full duty before the investigations into the shooting were complete. She changed course after she met with the family in a closed-door meeting Monday at Atlanta police headquarters. Shields said she understood the Cain family’s concerns and those raised by council members, but she did not say whether Kelley would be fired.

“The results of the shooting (investigation) will determine the officer’s employment status,” Shields said at Tuesday’s public safety committee meeting. “I don’t see us firing an officer for not turning on their camera.”


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The shooting is being investigated by the GBI, which is standard in officer-involved shootings. However, Councilman Antonio Brown questioned the strength of the investigation, asking “How do you get the full scope of the story if there were no cameras in place to tell what actually happened?”

“I want this investigation to have a chance to play out…there is the chance that the officer did use discretion and did what they had to do, and I’m not going to dismiss that (entirely),” Shields said. She said such investigations were conducted before body cameras were in use.

The lack of body camera footage revives earlier issues Atlanta police have had with body cameras. A 2018 audit found the Atlanta police department’s officers routinely failed to turn them on.

The department has since changed its policies to require that body-worn cameras be on from the start to the end of a call. This shooting, however, prompted Shields to ask for a body-worn camera system that automatically activates the camera when an officer unholsters their firearm.

Costs for the proposed body cameras were not readily available at Tuesday’s meeting.

Shields could not provide an estimate of how many Atlanta officers have body-worn cameras but said most of the uniform personnel have them.

“I think our first priority is to get all of the officers with a body camera,” Atlanta City Council president Felicia Moore said. “If we’re going to invest in it let’s get everybody equipped.”

But with the pending departmental changes, Cain’s family still wonders why his death could not be avoided.

“Body cameras are supposed to stop speculation,” Cain’s sister Shakina Cosby said. “That’s what my brother stood for.”


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In related news:

Oscar Cain rallies supporters of body cameras before leading them into the Atlanta City Council's public safety meeting where several of them gave public comment.