Local

Demonstrators Interrupt Atlanta Town Hall, Protest Deadly Police Shooting

At a town hall meeting this week, demonstrators protested the January police-involved shooting death of Jimmy Atchison. Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, left, and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, shown in a 2018 photo, apologized to Atchison's family for a lack of communication from the police department and said there is no cover-up in the case.
At a town hall meeting this week, demonstrators protested the January police-involved shooting death of Jimmy Atchison. Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, left, and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, shown in a 2018 photo, apologized to Atchison's family for a lack of communication from the police department and said there is no cover-up in the case.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press file photo

At a town hall in southwest Atlanta this week, demonstrators protested the shooting death of Jimmy Atchison.

In January, witnesses say 21-year-old Atchison was hiding in a closet when he was shot by a police officer. The officer was on an FBI task force. Atchison, a father of two, was wanted on an armed robbery charge.

“[The] 1-year-old just took steps a few weeks ago,” said Jimmy Hill, Atchison’s father. “Yet his father wasn’t there.”

Protesters started chanting when Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields took the microphone at the town hall at Cascade United Methodist Church on Tuesday night.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms talked over chanters to explain the protests to those bewildered in the audience.

The event was the second in a series of town halls organized by the mayor. Residents came to express their concerns about issues such as street repairs, garbage removal and bringing more grocery stores to the area.

The protests lasted for about three minutes. Police escorted demonstrators out.

“Freedom of expression is an important right guaranteed by our Constitution. Once that expression crossed over into sustained disruption of a planned event, we had a duty to restore order,” said a spokesman from the Atlanta Police Department. “We’re pleased that the protesters left the property peacefully and without incident, once asked to do so.”

According to the police department, none of the demonstrators were arrested.

They continued to protest outside the church on Cascade Road.

“My son deserved to have his day in court. He didn’t deserve to be shot down like no dog. And that’s what happened,” Hill said.

He says the mayor and police chief met with the family just a day before the town hall.

“My son got killed January the 22nd. And you just now trying to apologize yesterday? Come on! Where all this time done went?” Hill said.

Shields and the mayor apologized to the family for a lack of communication from the department. They said there is not a cover-up of the case.

The FBI, as well as the Fulton County district attorney, launched investigations into the shooting. The officer is on paid administrative duty; he has no gun or badge, the Atlanta Police Department said.

Hill asks why the officer still has a job.

“Justice was not served,” Hill said. “If we have to go to this level to get the truth, we have to do it.”