Cobb County District Attorney Flynn Broady said Thursday he will not prosecute a Cobb Police officer who fatally shot a black teenager last summer after a grand jury declined to return an indictment.
Broady said at a press conference at the Cobb Police Training Academy in Austell that as far as he is concerned, the case involving the officer who shot and killed Vincent Truitt, 17, last July 13 after a traffic chase, is closed.
Broady’s remarks came after the grand jury deliberated all day Thursday to review police reports from the officers and video camera footage taken from police vehicles and body and surveillance cameras.
A video from one of the pursuing police cars was shown during the press conference, including the shooting of Truitt. He was a passenger in a car that was suspected of being stolen, and whose driver took police on a high-speed chase in South Cobb, and ultimately behind an industrial building off Riverside Parkway.
The death was ruled a homicide by the Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Office, and after a probe by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation—which investigates all officer-involved shootings—the case was turned over to the Cobb DA’s office.
Truitt’s family said earlier this month it is planning a $50 million lawsuit against Cobb Police, alleging he was running away from police and wasn’t armed.
They also have been asking for months for the release of camera footage of the shooting, accused former DA Joyette Holmes of not properly investigating the case and demanded the resignation of Cobb Police Chief Tim Cox.
Broady and deputy chief assistant DA Jason Salibi said the footage seen by the grand jury on Thursday clearly showed Truitt brandishing a weapon. He suffered two gunshot wounds and died 12 hours later at Grady Memorial Hospital.
Broady said the unnamed officer followed all proper departmental procedures for use-of-force as well as state law.
“As an African-American, you hate to see an African-American shot down,” Broady said. “But the fact is we have to follow the law. And the law says the officer is within his rights.
“If you see the the video, you see plenty of places where that young man could have hid and presented an opportunity to ambush the officer or the officers who were chasing the other assailant.”
Salibi said Truitt’s family was called to the Cobb court chambers Thursday and briefed in a separate room about the grand jury proceedings, including the decision not to indict.
Broady said footage that wasn’t shown to the grand jury, out of deference for Truitt’s family, was when a wounded Truitt asked police why he had been shot.
“Because you had a gun,” Broady quoted the police officer as saying.
Salibi said that in the aftermath of the shooting, police rendered aid to Truitt, who lived in Fulton County.
The week before he defeated Holmes in the November elections, Broady appeared with Truitt’s family at a Cobb Board of Commissioners meeting that involved a group called Movement 4 Black Lives.
According to the Cobb County Courier, Truitt’s family’s attorney has been critical of Broady since he took office, and said that they “will be presenting Truitt’s case to the United Nations as an example of the ‘police brutality epidemic’ in the United States.”
Broady said Thursday that although the officer was never charged with a crime, the grand jury was presented evidence as though it were a criminal case, as part of a policy of his office to have a grand jury review any officer-involved shooting.
When asked what message he may have for those in the community still troubled by the shooting, Broady said that “we cannot let emotions dictate how we see things, that we have to look at the facts.”
Quoting Malcolm X, Broady said, “I am for justice, no matter who it’s for or who it’s against. It’s my job as district attorney that I look out for everybody. Not just for the victims but also the offenders, to make sure that they get a fair hearing based on the evidence, and that’s what we did today.”
At a later media briefing, Cox said that “I recognize that the loss of life is tragic. I pray for that family every day.”
He said that the police officer who shot Truitt has been under heavy stress, “and I pray for that officer” as well.
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