The parents of an 8-year-old girl who was shot and killed near where Rayshard Brooks was shot several weeks earlier filed a lawsuit Monday against the city of Atlanta and others.
Secoriea Turner was murdered on July 4, 2020, while driving an SUV with her mother and a friend of hers, near the Wendy's restaurant where Brooks, a 27-year-old black man, was murdered on June by a white police officer 12. The lawsuit filed by Charmaine Turner and Secoriey Williamson says city leaders showed negligence by failing to remove the armed vigilantes who gathered along with peaceful protesters, creating a dangerous situation that led to Secoriea's death.
'Secorea should be here. Nothing we do will ever bring our baby back. Her life is priceless," Turner said at a news conference Monday. “We deserve justice. Someone has to be held accountable.”
According to the lawsuit, city leaders showed negligence by failing to remove armed vigilantes gathered at the site along with peaceful protesters.
The restaurant was set on fire the day after Brooks' murder, and in the weeks that followed, people protesting police brutality camped on the property. Makeshift barricades had been erected in the area and gunmen had blocked roads and turned some drivers away. As the driver of the SUV drove into Secoriea and approached the barricade, armed people started walking towards the vehicle and indicated that the driver was unable to pass and one or more people shot into the vehicle, the lawsuit says.
The city no longer tolerated protesters occupying Wendy's property after Secoriea's murder, and the restaurant's charred shell was demolished on July 14.
The lawsuit was filed in Fulton County State Court against the city's Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant, City Councilor Joyce Sheperd, Wendy's International and the company that owns the property where the Wendy's is located. found.
“The murder of Secoriea Turner, as a result of senseless gun violence, is a tragedy that no family should experience. Due to the expected lawsuits, the city will not comment further at this time," a city spokesperson said.
A police spokesperson said the department will not comment on pending lawsuits. Sheperd did not immediately respond to an email on Monday. Wendy's did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment. Owner's contact information could not be found directly.
The lawsuit says violent, armed vigilantes mingled with the peaceful protesters who gathered at the site to protest police brutality and pay tribute to Brooks. By the end of June, at least two people had been shot and injured in that area. The street was barricaded by an armed militia that became increasingly violent and refused to let people through, the lawsuit said.
City officials were aware of the dangerous situation and allowed it to happen, the lawsuit says. Bottoms said the city planned to clear the area weeks before Secoriea's death, but Sheperd asked for more time to talk to protesters, the lawsuit said.
City and police leaders ignored calls from community leaders for police help and did nothing to address the violence, the lawsuit said. According to a June 17 police email quoted in the lawsuit, officers were told to respond to victims of violence but "not be overly proactive in any shape, form or fashion."
“The mayor, the city council and the police make the specific decision not to have law enforcement in a particular location,” said Shean Williams, a family attorney, calling it a unique situation.
The lawsuit accuses city leaders at the highest levels of failing to provide basic public safety and public protection.
Wendy's and the property owner also acted negligently by failing to provide safety and security on the property and at the access points, the lawsuit said.
"They allowed nuisance to occur in the property," Williams said. "They were aware of that nuisance — the danger, the dangers that lingered with vigilantes on the property."
The lawsuit calls for a jury trial and seeks damages in an amount to be determined by a jury.
Julian Conley, 20, is charged with murder and aggravated assault in Secoriea's death and remains in prison. He turned himself in on July 15, a day after police received warrants for his arrest. His attorney at the time said Conley was armed and protesting peacefully and witnessed the shooting but did not open fire.
Police said several people were involved in the shooting, but no one has been arrested. Mawuli Davis, a lawyer for Secoriea's parents, said on Monday that the family has spoken with the prosecutor's office and investigators and that waiting for justice is frustrating.
Top Photo: Charmaine Turner walks up to her to check on her for 8-year-old daughter Secoriea Turner, who was fatally shot in Atlanta on July 4 near the Wendy's site where Rayshard Brooks was killed on Tuesday, July 14. July 2020 was murdered in South Fulton, Georgia (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
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