Mom tells Atlanta City Council she sought intervention for troubled 12-year-old

The mother of a pre-teen shot and killed in Midtown Atlanta told city council members Monday she wanted her child placed in juvenile custody because of his involvement in crime.

Deerica Charles spoke emotionally at Monday’s Atlanta City Council meeting, as one council member called for a tougher city curfew.

Twelve-year-old Zyion Charles died Saturday night in the shooting on 17th Street just outside of Atlantic Station that wounded five other young people.


Atlanta Police say the shootings happened after a group of young people had been expelled from Atlantic Station due to their curfew and what mall officials described as unruly behavior.

The mother told council members Zyion had behavioral issues that forced her to seek help from juvenile authorities.

12-year-old Zyion Charles

12-year-old Zyion Charles (Provided by family)

Ms. Charles said her son became caught up with young people who she described as bad influences who committed crimes such as car break-ins.

She told council members she had asked a police officer to place her son into custody 7 days before the shooting, but was told juvenile authorities would not keep him due to its point formula for detention. She also said she reached out to Atlanta Police multiple times about her son.

According to the mother, she was told the crime of car larceny would not be serious enough for a teen to be held in detention.

The mother and other family members spoke with heavy hearts telling city leaders how they were unable to help the boy.


District 8 Councilwoman Mary Norwood listened to the mother’s testimony closely and complained teen criminals are using younger children to help them carry out their crimes to avoid punishment in the juvenile court system.

Norwood who represents the Buckhead area wants state lawmakers to make changes to tighten discipline for youth who break the law.

Monday evening, Post 3 Councilman Keisha Sean Waites called for a 7 p.m. citywide curfew for all youth aged 17 and under. Waites’ legislation will also require any location that has experienced historical patterns of violence, multiple incidents, or homicides to integrate commercial grade cameras into the Atlanta Police Department’s Video Integration Center, or VIC, which is a high-tech operation that enables 9-1-1 operators to access the cameras.

Waites said, "As a stopgap measure to save the lives of family members and our neighbors until we develop a solution, we must move quickly to protect the lives of our most vulnerable populations. For this reason, I have recommended to my colleagues that we institute a mandatory curfew of 7 p.m. for youth aged 17 and under. Given the recent shootings and reports in high-traffic retail spaces, this stopgap measure will save lives."