Mother of 13-year-old beaten at Atlantic Station files complaint against police

Javon Ridley, 13, speaks briefly Wednesday at the Atlanta Police Department's Office of Professional Standards, where he planned to give his statement.

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Javon Ridley, 13, speaks briefly Wednesday at the Atlanta Police Department's Office of Professional Standards, where he planned to give his statement.

A woman whose 13-year-old son was badly beaten after a massive brawl at Atlantic Station last month has filed a complaint against a group of Atlanta police officers who she says did nothing to stop the attack.

Iresha Ridley said she has formally asked APD’s office of professional standards to investigate why none of its officers intervened while a crowd beat her son.

Prior to that attack, another teenager was beaten and punched until he lost consciousness in a different location, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. A 15-year-old was charged with aggravated assault in that case.

Javon Ridley was attacked Nov. 28 as officers were working to disperse the crowd after the brawl that involved as many as 300 teenagers. In a news conference Wednesday, the Ridleys and their attorney said they believe as many as 10 officers were present at the time.

“The officers have to be held accountable for not intervening when it was their duty to protect (Javon),” attorney Mawuli Mel Davis said.

Atlanta police confirmed that Iresha Ridley had been in touch with an investigator regarding the complaint and that “an investigation into the matter is open and active.”

“We are deeply concerned over this event and we understand and share the frustrations of Mr. Ridley and his family,” an Atlanta police spokesman said in an emailed statement to the AJC. “This incident should never have occurred and I believe it provides a glimpse into some of the challenges faced by the Atlanta Police Department and our officers. Maintaining order over hundreds of juveniles in a situation like this is nearly impossible.”

Hundreds of teens were gathered near the dining and shopping destination’s bowling alley about 5:30 p.m., and many were engaged in fights, according to an incident report obtained by the AJC.

When officers tried to disperse the clusters of teens, several “became defiant and more disorderly, engaging in more fistfights,” the incident report said. One teen was severely beaten and repeatedly punched, police confirmed. When he fell to the ground, another teen repeatedly stomped on his head, the report said.

The beating caused that teen to slip into a seizure, according to Atlanta City Council member Antonio Brown, who was there as the mayhem unfolded. He said an Atlantic Station resident pulled the boy to safety. He is expected to be OK, officials said.

According to Davis, Javon Ridley was dropped off at Atlantic Station by his mother more than two hours later. The teen, who was unaware of the brawl, had planned to meet his uncle about 8 p.m., Davis said.

“His uncle was there and waiting for him at the bowling alley,” Davis said. “When he attempted to get out of the car to go to the bowling alley, unfortunately, Atlanta police turned him away.”

Due to the violence that had erupted just hours earlier, Atlanta police told Javon and other teens to stand on the 17th Street bridge, which is just outside of Atlantic Station and about a five-minute walk from the bowling alley.

That’s where a large group of people descended on the 5-foot-3, 104-pound teen, Davis said.

Passersby captured the attack with cellphone cameras and posted the videos to social media. In one video, shared with the AJC by Davis, a crowd is seen throwing blows on one person. Davis said as many as 20 people took turns punching and kicking Javon. It is not clear why he was attacked.

“While he was being attacked, obviously, you can see videos where there are Atlanta patrol cars that are occupied by Atlanta police officers who did nothing to render aid,” Davis said, “and that, for us, is a miscarriage of justice.”

Iresha Ridley said she was “devastated” by her son’s attack. “Unfortunately, I was not there to protect him,” she said.

But Atlanta police officers were, and they did nothing to intervene, Ridley said.

“This is my only child,” she said. “He could have been killed.”

Ridley said Javon suffered a broken nose, occlusion of the left eye socket and other injuries to his head, face and arms. He continues to see medical specialists for his injuries, according to Davis.

The police department said its officers are faced with many challenges and are often asked why they didn’t do more “while those truly responsible seem to be given a pass.”

“While we work to answer questions regarding whether our officers acted appropriately or not, I believe some other important questions remain,” APD’s statement said. “Where were the parents and guardians of these children? How many more incidents like this need to occur before parents and guardians begin taking responsibility for their children and paying attention to their actions? Public safety is a community effort and this event is a clear indication we need more help from our communities.”

The Ridley family said it will continue to pursue justice in the case.

“They had one job, to serve and protect,” Javon said. “And they failed to do that.”