COBB COUNTY, Ga. - A Cobb County grand jury has ruled that the use of force in the deadly shooting of a 17-year-old boy by a Cobb County police officer to be "authorized" under Georgia law. That announcement was made by Cobb County District Attorney Flynn D. Broady Jr. on Thursday as his office also released surveillance video, dash camera video, and body camera video of the incident.
The family of Vincent Truitt has been calling for the release of that video for months. Truitt was one of three teens in a stolen car that fled from police along Riverside Parkway on July 13, 2020. Truitt's family has been seeking answers as to how the 17-year-old ended up being shot and killed by police.
Assistant District Attorney Jason Saliba, during a press conference on Thursday evening, played surveillance video from the QuikTrip along Riverside Park just off Interstate 20 near where police first noticed the silver Nissan Ultima in which the three teens were riding. Saliba said a tag reader ran the vehicle's plate which came back stolen out of Atlanta just 23 hours earlier. That's when officers tried to make a traffic stop.
Dashcam video shows an officer following the car into the parking lot of the QT and attempting to pull over the car. The surveillance video shows the vehicle striking and evading a handful of police cruisers as it sped through the gas station's parking lot and back out onto the roadway. The car went south on Riverside Parkway, crossing over I-20. Dashcam video shows the car spinning out and then speeding away again. Eventually, the car pulled into an industrial area and stopped at a dead-end near a loading dock. The teens took off running.
According to the GBI, Truitt "brandished" a handgun in his right hand and was then shot by a police officer. Saliba showed the still of that moment when the officer spotted the gun.
"This is a still as Mr. Truitt exits the video. And as you can clearly see, in this area, the weapon that he's holding that was recovered just on the ground at the end of the video," Saliba said.
Saliba said after the shooting, the officers rendered first aid and called for an ambulance. Truitt was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital where he underwent surgery that night and then transferred to the ICU. He died at noon the next day.
DA Broady said they didn't show the video after the shooting out of respect for the family.
"There's a portion of the video that we did not play out in respect for the family where the young man actually asked the officer 'Why did you shoot me?' And the officer responds 'Because you had a weapon,'" Broady said.
While the district attorney's office released some of the video, the grand jury saw more. They saw every officer's body and dash cams as well as surveillance video from behind the warehouse loading dock. They also heard testimony from the GBI investigator and were read all the witness statements.
Broady said the grand jury believes the officer followed his department's standard operating procedures for the use of deadly force in addition to the state's law.
"In this case, the officer followed the SOP to the letter, and also followed the law," Broady said.
Vincent Truitt, 17, was shot and killed by a police officer in Cobb County (Gerald Griggs).
For months, the family has been saying the officer did was not within his rights to shoot Truitt. They retained well-known attorney Gerald Griggs to represent them.
"Vincent had a gun, yes, but at no point did Vincent use that gun in a threatening manner necessitating law enforcement to shoot him," Griggs told FOX 5 in October.
Griggs at the time said the family planned to sue the county for $50 million because Truitt never pointed the gun at the officer.
"If he's under 18, it would be a misdemeanor to possess a pistol. That is concerning, but in Georgia, none of those offenses carries the death penalty on the side of the road," said Griggs.
But the district attorney disagreed with Griggs assessment during Thursday's press conference saying the law states that Truitt posed a danger by having a gun in his hand. He said there were plenty of places where Truitt could have found to hide and potentially ambush the officers with the weapon.
"We cannot let emotions dictate how we see things. That we have to look at the facts," Broady said.
The DA said it is his policy to present use of force cases to a grand jury to help buffer those emotions.
"I will not make a decision on my own that requires me to show my bias or show emotion for what I see in the video. Because as an African American you hate to see any African Americans shot down. But the fact is, we have to follow the law and the law says the officer was within his rights," he said.
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