- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2021

The parents of an 8-year-old girl shot and killed last summer at a protest encampment in Atlanta filed a lawsuit Monday against city officials, arguing that their failure to enforce public safety by clearing the barricade around a fast-food restaurant resulted in the child’s death.

The complaint was filed in Fulton County state court by the parents of Secoriea Turner, who died July 4, and named Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, interim police Chief Rodney Bryant and council member Joyce Sheperd, as well as Wendy’s International.

“The city knew that this was a dangerous space, and they did nothing about it,” attorney Mawuli Davis said at a Monday press conference in Atlanta.

“They knew about specific threats of a barricade that they allowed to be erected and maintained by vigilantes,” the lawyer said.

In the weeks before her death, protesters burned down the Wendy’s where police shot and killed 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks during a June 12 arrest, and set up a blockade surrounding the restaurant on University Avenue that soon became a hotbed of lawlessness.

The complaint said that two adults — a man and a woman — were shot at the site in June before at least one person opened fire on the Jeep carrying Secoriea, her mother Charmaine Turner, and an adult friend at the makeshift roadblock as they tried to drive home on July 4.

Secoriea was hit by a bullet in the back as she sat in the back seat and died later that night at the hospital. The vehicle was shot eight times.

Attorney Sam Starks said that city officials were aware of the threat from the rogue armed civilians, but that police had been told not to patrol the barricaded region.

“We believe the evidence shows that the mayor gave specific direction to the police chief and the police department to stand down,” Mr. Starks said. “That is a dereliction of duty, that is a failure to abide by the specific mandates and the terms of her oath: Protect the public health, safety and peace of citizens.”

The mayor’s office released a statement Monday saying that the “murder of Secoriea Turner, as a result of senseless gun violence, is a tragedy that no family should have to endure. Due to the anticipated litigation, the City will offer no further comment, at this time.”

According to the complaint, the mayor and police “had planned on cleaning the area weeks earlier but were encouraged to wait after Councilmember Sheperd requested more time to ‘negotiate with activists.’”

Ms. Sheperd also declined to comment on the specifics of the lawsuit, but expressed sorrow over the girl’s death.

“It’s been nearly a year since the loss of Secoriea Turner. The pain still resonates with me, within the community and the city at large,” she said in a statement to Fox5.

“My heart is with the family and those who have been impacted by this loss. In the wake of the tragedy, I am aware of the lawsuit that has been filed on behalf of the family. I have been in contact with our law department and will not be making any official statements related to the lawsuit,” she said.

Julian Conley, 19, has been charged in Secoriea’s death.

His previous attorney told news outlets last year that his client was at the blockade and had a firearm, but did not shoot at the vehicle.

The lawsuit, which seeks a jury trial and unnamed punitive damages, said that the parents had attempted in good faith to reach a settlement with the city, but the “effort was rejected by these Defendants.”

“People have focused a great deal of attention on the barricade, the vigilantes who manned that barricade, the peaceful protesters that we acknowledge were out there for a good cause, but we would like to at least start with you focusing on Secoriea, just for a moment,” Mr. Davis said.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide