Jimmy Atchison Hearing – January 26, 2021, 10 am Eastern
Transcript: Hearing on the Case of Jimmy Atchison
- Rapporteur Priscilla Ocen
- Commissioner Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo
- Commissioner Sir Clare Roberts
- Mr. Jimmy Hill, father of Jimmy Atchison
- Mr. Gerald Griggs, attorney for the Atchison family
Priscilla Ocen 00:43
Good morning. My name is Priscilla Ocen and I am the rapporteur for today’s proceedings. Welcome to the hearings of the International Commission of Inquiry on systemic racist police violence against people of African descent in the United States. These hearings are a process by which witnesses can present accounts of unjustified killings and maimings of black people by police, police officers in United States before an international panel of human rights experts. We are now, we now begin the hearing in the case of Jimmy Atchison. As I said, my name is Priscilla Ocen, and I am the rapporteur for this hearing. Presiding over today’s hearing are commissioners Hannibal Uwaifo of Nigeria and Commissioner Sir Clare Roberts of Antigua. The witnesses for today’s hearing are Gerald Griggs, the attorney, and Jimmy Hill. Mr. Atchison’s father. There will be 15 minutes for this hearing. Witnesses will testify, followed by a period of questions from commissioners, I will call time at the 30 minute mark and the 45 minute mark, please excuse my interruptions Commissioner. And Commissioner Roberts, I now present to you our first witness, Mr. Gerald Griggs.
Gerald Griggs 02:10
Good morning, gentlemen. And thank you, gentlemen, ladies for for this opportunity to speak on the case of Jimmy Atchison. I plan on being brief, but I want to outline the facts of the case. And then I also want you guys to hear from the father of Jimmy Atchison, who will be discussing. And so a little bit brief background. We are in Atlanta, Georgia, which is the one of the cradles of civil rights, and Jimmy Atchison’s case underscores the need for expansive civil rights and human rights protections in in Georgia. Basically, on January the 22nd, there was a young man who was gunned down unarmed in a closet as he was surrendering by members of the task force and Atlanta police department. On that day, Mr. Jimmy Atchison was visiting his child’s mother in an apartment complex off of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Allen Temple apartment complex. He was at that apartment complex when members of the Fugitive Task Force were commissioned to arrest him for an allegation of armed robbery. When the task force made contact with Mr. Atchison, a brief chase ensued, where Mr. Atchison jumped out of a third storey window, ran around the back of the apartment complex, and went into another adjoining apartment where he hid, unarmed, in the closet. Members of the Federal Task Force, particularly Atlanta police officer Sung Kim gave chase to Mr. Atchison, surrounded him, and then ultimately executed him in a closet while he was on his knees with his hands up. This particular case received little to no notoriety initially, but then because of the efforts of Mr. Atchison’s family, and Mr. Atchison’s, Tania Miller, as well as the NAACP, and activists like myself, as well, the returnees began to give a voice to this case.
What we found out was that the allegation of armed robbery was based on a warrant that was not thoroughly investigated. We were able to track down the witness to the alleged armed robbery and it turned out there was in fact no armed robbery. We tried to make contact with the district attorney’s office. We tried to make contact with the mayor’s office. We tried to make sure that all of the facts and circumstances surrounding Mr. Atchison’s death would come full circle. We have been unsuccessful. But the facts as we know them at this point, would be that Mr. Atchison, at no point posed a threat of any imminent harm or danger to the Atlanta police department or the federal task force, that members of the federal task force were not equipped with body worn cameras, which would have captured the entire scene. Subsequently, the officer alleged to have killed Mr. Atchison has been relieved of duty by the Atlanta police department, but he was allowed to retire, I’m sorry to resign in lieu of being terminated by the former police chief Erica Shields. As the case stands to this day, we just celebrated the two year anniversary of the passing of Mr. Atchison. The family has been resolute in demanding justice. They have taken every affirmative step that they possibly could. They’ve spoken with two US attorneys, John Horn, and the former US Attorney BJ Pak, about civil rights violations committed by the Atlanta police department, as well as the fugitive Task Force and this particular officer Sung Kim.
They have been unsuccessful to this point in receiving any type of civil rights investigation or any charges against this officer. They’ve also been in direct contact with the Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard. And now the new Fulton County District Attorney, Farley Willis and we fully expect that charges will be filed against Sung Kim. But this underscores a serious systemic problem in America, a serious systemic problem in Georgia, and a serious systemic problem in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Atchison is just one of 18 open police involved shooting cases in the city of Atlanta that have gone, gone unresolved. More facts would be that Mr. Atchison, at the time of his death, was a father of two children. He was 21 years old. He had a son and a daughter, his son was about eight months old at the time of his killing, and his daughter was about three years old. They will now grow up without a father. They will grow up without a parental guidance that only a father can bring. He also is a brother, he has another brother and I believe he has eight female siblings of a very large family that is very caring. And the reason why this case is important and it needs to be underscored on the international stage is that there has been a obstruction on behalf of the Atlanta police department.
It took nine months for this case to even receive any adequate attention and that was after activists as well as the Atchison family. I had to go to two different town hall meetings from the mayor Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and tried to get her attention. And it was only right before the second town hall that the Atchison family was able to secure a meeting with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to address the situation. This was the first time she had spoken to them with regards to the death of their son and did offer her condolences and did make certain pledges of transparency and accountability, none of which have been met today. The meeting was well over a year and a half ago. So the facts as we know, Jimmy Atchison was unarmed. He had not committed any crime. He was merely alleged to have committed a crime, which we later determined was in fact false by interviewing the witness that was present. That witness was actually mentioned in the police report about this alleged armed robbery. And once we interviewed that witness, she made it abundantly clear that she had told the police department about the alleged incident and that in fact, no armed robbery had occurred. Mr. Atchison was in fear of his life, which is why he ran from the police. He was ultimately cornered in another adjacent apartment and attempting to give up when he was given two conflicting orders. One was not to move, and the other was to come out of the apartment, at which point he began to surrender and was shot right under his eye point blank, which was the shot that ultimately took his life. Since that day, there has been absolutely no accountability by anyone involved in the shooting and killing of Jimmy Atchison. There has been denial after denial after denial, which has caused the family to now have filed a civil rights lawsuit to get to the bottom of what happened to their son and to also get accountability for his unlawful killing.
There has still been no criminal charges filed against anyone for the killing of Jimmy Atchison. And again, this underscores the systemic bias, this systemic lack of investigation that is continuing to occur in this country, unchecked, by unlawful extrajudicial killings by police officers. I am an attorney. I’ve been an attorney for 16 years primarily practicing in the area of civil rights and criminal defense. And I can say under American law, under Georgia law, even if Mr. Atchison was in fact guilty of an armed robbery, the punishment for the commission of an armed robbery is not instant execution unarmed in a closet. And so what we’re asking is that this commission convene an independent investigation into all of these cases and bring light to the injustice is that contained to happen in America unchecked. It was underscored by George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, but Jimmy Atchison happened a year before all of those incidents. And it just continues to underscore the problem that we have here in the United States. Since Mr. Atchison’s death, the FBI has now instituted a policy where members of their task force are now ordered to wear body cameras. The Atlanta police department officer, Sung Kim was not allowed to wear a body cam while serving on the FBI Task Force. Thus, we don’t have any body cam. Since then, the Atlanta Police Department has divested its participation in the fugitive task force because of the lack of body worn cameras, which is a policy of Atlanta police. But that’s simply not enough. We need full liability and accountability for the unlawful killing of Jimmy Atchison, and real justice and accountability in cases like this one, and others. That will conclude my presentation. Those are the facts as we know them in this particular case, and I would call for his father, Jimmy Hill to make his victim impact statement.
Priscilla Ocen 12:32
Thank you very much, Mr. Griggs. commissioners Uwaifo and Roberts, I now present to you our second witness, Jimmy Hill. Mr. Hill, can you please confirm your name?
Jimmy Hill 12:46
Yes, Jimmy Hill.
Priscilla Ocen 12:48
And do you promise that your testimony to the Commission of Inquiry will be true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
Jimmy Hill 12:55
Yes, I do.
Priscilla Ocen 12:57
Thank you very much. Mr. Hill, you may begin.
Jimmy Hill 13:02
January 27 2019, I received a phone call from Jimmy’s mother’s Cynthia Atchison. And she and she spoke to me and she said the police, they caught him, checked, they had Jimmy surrounded, and and the first thing I thought about was, you know, years ago, I’ve been a part of police brutality. And I know what they’ll do. I know what they’re capable of doing. And when she told me the police got him, and she said they shot him, but at least, at least they didn’t kill him. She coming back two minutes later, say he’s dead. January 27 2019, one of the darker days of my life. One of the darkest days in my family life. My son Jimmy was unarmed, surrendering. And yes, he trusted those who were supposed to protect him and Sung Kim took his life.
Now there is a mother without a sin. Children without their father, our family without Jimmy, who we loved and miss, miss a day so much. Jimmy’s future was stolen from hi, it was ripped from from him. We will continue to fight. I found that I’ve been through hell on this journey of trying to get justice. And we’re not going to stop fighting with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms and other Atlanta officials who won’t get action, wanti the case swept under the rug. And who had who had played many political games in trying to stop and trying to deter us from receiving justice, but we’re gonna continue to fight with other advocates and activists and friends. I found that I’ve been through so much pain and we continue to carry the scars each day of Jimmy, on our hearts and our mind and our souls. We miss him so much. Jimmy was aspiring to be a, to be a musician and he loved to rap. But he didn’t do the type of hardcore rap. He wanted the type of rap music that he did was try to get people involved and people dancing and people full of laughter and stuff. My son Jimmy Atchison’s life matters. Too many, too many officials, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms and many officials, they show that his life didn’t matter. What I can understand about this case is why wouldn’t, why wouldn’t a SWAT called in a situation like this? And it had been in many cases. Sung Kim has always been known as overly aggressive officer. If you were to look up his record, you will see how aggressive, overly aggressive he had been in cases at one time even firing firing shots while officers was in plain view and hurting some officers. In this case, Sung Kim took matters, he placed himself above the law, took matters into their own hands, and became my son, Jimmy’s jury, judge and executioner. Sung Kim knew what he was going to do that morning, he knew his intention was to kill Jimmy. We knew my son didn’t have a gun, we knew my son didn’t do that no type of armed robbery. Our family knew it, but we can’t understand why they didn’t take him in.
And I think so much is Atlanta has been trying to protect – Atlanta has a police brutality problem. And they had been trying to protect and sweep this case, under the rug because from the very beginning, there are categories of mishandling the warrant or not checking out the warrant and they sloppiness they’re trying to cover up for their mistake. My son was a young Black man. And he deserved better. He didn’t deserve to die in this type of manner. Many members of his family, his sisters, his brother, it took them a while to finally come to terms that Jimmy was, that Jimmy was dead.. Sometimes you want to wake up and think about it like this is a dream only to find out that it’s real. So many tears, enough tears to fill up an ocean. It took some and I think some of us, somehow some of these, his brothers and sisters still need counseling today, but it still affected them in a way. Some won’t go to his grave. Some don’t want to really be involved with this case, because it’s too painful for them. Because we’re a close knit family. My son Jimmy Atchison life mattered. I hope you’re able to, to come to a conclusion. Doing the right thing because Sung Kim, need to be he need to be indicted and convicted of murder.
Let me just say this quote here. You know, as attorney Griggs spoke, but here we are the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, who spoke strongly against police brutality, and racism. And Dr King said we cannot be satisfied as Black Americans, as long as Black American continues to be the victims of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. Everybody should have the right to live their life free of fear, everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. Where is the dignity and respect when it came to my son Jimmy Atchison? Sung Kim had a sworn oath and his oath was, you know that he will have the courage to hold himself and others accountable for their actions. Who is liberty and justice really for? Is it only for a selective few? Is liberty and justice for my son, Jimmy Atchison? Thank you.
Priscilla Ocen 19:37
Thank you very much for your very compelling and moving testimony. Mr. Hill, I want to extend to you my deepest condolences on the loss of your son Jimmy Atchison. I now want to turn it over to our commissioners. Commissioners Uwaifo and Commissioner Roberts, I invite you to ask any questions that that you wish to our witnesses Mr. Griggs, the attorney in this matter, and Mr. Hill, Jimmy’s father.
Hannibal Uwaifo 20:09
Well, thank you very much. Priscilla, let me join you to commiserate with Mr. Jimmy Hill and family of Jimmy Atchison for their loss. I am particularly very worried coming from the African background. Because as an activist in international criminal law, and looking at what obtains here within Africa, which you have traveled widely around, is that in Nigeria, the case of the United States seem to be, in the case of the teacher, do what I say not what I do. You know, because some of these issues have become so endemic and serious, that what we see in Africa appears to just be a tragedy. I’m really very, very shocked and disappointed by what I’ve been hearing, now that these hearings have already begun. Now, I want to start by asking the question, is it a law in the United States that you arrest the person before investigating the case? If an allegation has been made against the person of the late Mr. Atchison? Is it a right? Is it the law in the United States, for the police, or for the FBI to go with guns or weapons of that man before investigating? Because what I’ve heard from my colleagues Gerald Griggs right now, is that thorough investigation in the absence of responsibility by the authorities, FBI, by the APD, in the absence of any responsibility, the absence of any fair investigation, they’ve gone out to investigate and find out that in fact, Mr Atchison did not in fact, was not in fact, involved in an armed robbery. This should have been the first thing the authorities should have done before embarking with weapons with state power to go at an innocent man. And I’m a bit worried, is the US law different? Because elementary law teaches us, and I begin to get worried. I begin to accept clearly and fully that this is actually a systematic and endemic way of life in the US, by the authorities. It’s not a way of life. It’s not something that, nobody does anything about it. The authorities do nothing about it. What they simply do, is the victims go to court of civil matters, get some compensation. They pay, they go out again, do the same thing.
Continue, continue continuing. How long is this going to continue? Do the laws in the United States not protect the citizens? Are we going to conclude that yes, there are actually two laws in the US one for the Black, or the colored people, and for the white? These cases here, through these hearings, where the police literally, without effort, accountability in law, create a killer of two innocent victims without firing a shot? What if I shot at the man in the closet? Is it a law that you shoot before you think? I’ve just got we haven’t we don’t even have this sort of cases in Africa. I don’t see some other cases which have gone through, which are similar to this, which are very, very, very, very sad. I’m so sorry, but I’m beginning to wonder. Two years. No investigation, no liability. The police is looking for, the police cannot Even in Nigeria, when I come from no matter bad the case is, no matter how bad the military government was. Once there is effects of this nature committed by anyone, the first thing to be done is investigation.
What it is, we don’t fail on failing like these, there should be an investigation. So I’m, I’m totally embarrassed by all these and I feel so sad that we have continue to suffer these losses over and over and over again. And I think it’s time we need to find a solution. I don’t know when a police reform will actually work. Doesn’t work particularly in Nigeria, presently. Police reforms aren’t going to work. I don’t know, or do we create, I suggest a minimum standard for police enforcement, I do recognize that the US is a federal state, does a country police, State Police, but police is police. Anybody can be in any state. Is it not possible.,I’m referring that to attorney Griggs to have a uniform police code in place before which all policemen should be held accountable? Thank you.
Gerald Griggs 25:48
And thank you for that question. And simply put, I believe, based on US constitutional law, as well as law in the state of Georgia, that is clear. All that you should investigate before you charge. And so in this particular case, you had one officer who went to a magistrate court judge and told the judge one set of facts that he had not thoroughly vetted. If they had simply looked at the police reports which we have copies of the police reports about the alleged armed robbery. The witness is in the police report. It’s like a three line police report. And they didn’t fully get everything that the witness would say. But they did in the one line say the witness said that Jimmy Atchison did not possess a gun, and did not take those items. So it was a lack of investigation. And then they went and got tasked, based on the lack of investigation, to implement this felony stop. And for a felony arrest, you can use a certain amount of force, but you can’t use deadly force until your life is threatened. That’s the law in America. But it just seems like as you said, there are two separate implementations of the law, one for majority citizens and another for minority citizens. And that’s the underlying problem. And too much leeway is given to police. There is a constitutional case, Graham vs Connor, which institutes a reasonableness standard as the standard of a reasonable officer in this, in that similar situation, and how they would respond. It’s a 1989 Supreme Court case, as well as Tennessee vs Garner, which is another US Supreme Court case, that gives the police this wide latitude. But it seems like the latitude is only exercised in cases where African Americans tend to be the victims.
So I do agree with you there can be a standard established in the United States that is universal to all policing. But our Congress does not have the will to take up this issue. The George Floyd Police Reform bill is currently sitting in the Senate, and it will deal with these issues. The first issue that has to be addressed is sovereign and qualified immunity, which prevents families like Mr. Atchison from getting compensation for the violation of constitutional rights. But then there’s also protections in state law, because many of these cases are state law, that give immunity for law enforcement for these killings. So there are two principles of law that have to be revisited. But it seems like our government does not have the will. Because the people that are being killed appear to be the wrong complexion for protection. And so yes, you are right. There is a systemic issue. It goes all the way back to the fact that police have not been reformed, policing has not been reformed in America since the 40s. And so we have to address these issues. It starts with cases like this. It starts with international agencies and other countries calling out America on its its lack of human rights, its lack of implementation of civil rights. And so I agree with you, and I can think of several things that can be done, but our elected officials have to have the will and the courage to do them.
Priscilla Ocen 29:25
Pretty much, Commissioner Uwaifo. Commissioner Roberts?
Sir Clare Roberts 29:29
Thank you very much. I also would like to say how sorry I feel about the killing and my condolences to Mr. Hill and his family on the death of his son. I wanted to ask some questions. One, I noticed in the complaint, the civil complaint, that there are many instances of police brutality being complained of against many of the officers. Yet, it would appear that nothing came of this or I’d like to ask, Mr. Griggs, what became of all these complaints? But that is one aspect. Is there an independent citizen complaint mechanism that should be dealing with these complaints? The other aspect that is of concern is the accountability, the impunity with which these instances of excessive force and unnecessary force can take place, and no one is found accountable. You mentioned, Mr. Griggs, in your presentation that there were 18 police killings, if I understood, I take it this is against Black people or just police killings generally? If so, if it’s general, how many were Black or African people of African descent? In the, the last area, I hope I’m not overburdening, you. The last area is with training. What sort of training do the police get? Is there a human rights element in the training program, is there sensitization? Is there any psychological analysis of these people being recruited to be policemen?
Priscilla Ocen 31:47
And before you respond, Mr. Griggs, let me just note that we are about 30 minutes into this hearing. I will give us another reminder of our time in about 15 minutes. There are a number of questions that were posed by Commissioner Roberts. I’ll just remind you, Mr. Griggs, especially since I just interrupted. One is, is there a pattern or practice investigation of these officers, given the number of complaints that were on record prior to the death of Mr. Atchison? How is it that there is such wholesale impunity, where no one is held accountable? What kind of legal standards are in place that permit such impunity by police officers who kill residents, particularly people of African descent? You gave a statistic of one in that there are 18 cases open. Do you know the racial breakdown? How many are Black? And then lastly, the question of training, how are police recruited? Does the training include any elements of human rights? And are there any examination of the psychological profile of officers? Commissioner Roberts, I hope I summarized your questions accurately. So I’ll thank you. I’ll turn it over to Mr. Griggs for responses. Mr. Hill, I’ll ask you if you have anything that you’d like to add after Mr. Griggs response.
Jimmy Hill 33:16
Gerald Griggs 33:16
OK, Thank you, Mr. Roberts, for those questions. And thank you for reiterating the questions that I was trying to keep track of the question. So I’ll take your last question. First, is there any element of civil rights and human rights training for law enforcement, as far as I can tell, there’s an attempt. Clearly by the numbers, it’s not having the effect that it needs to have. In Georgia, we have the POST, which is the Georgia peace officer Standards and Training. They are revamping that training, but there are still no mandates in Georgia law or in federal law, with a view towards human rights and civil rights training, which is another issue that’s brought up in the George Floyd police reform bill. So that is an open question as to the efficacy of the training. With regard to the numbers, the 18 cases, those are all African American, those are cases in the city of Atlanta, Fulton County. The only agency that tracks police involved shootings in America is currently the Washington Post, as well as in Georgia, the Atlanta Journal Constitution. So from 2015 to 2019, the Atlanta Journal Constitution in an article said, there were over 150 police involved killings in Georgia.
And so I don’t know all of the racial breakdown, but I do know those 18 cases in Atlanta, Fulton County, all African Americans. Last year, there was a report by I believe it was the Washington Post, that said there were 996 police involved shootings that ended in a death in America. So those are the numbers. But again, we’re getting them from media outlets because the FBI does not track use of force killings, nor does the GBI, which is the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. So we don’t have an outside agency that’s tracking this. And then to go to your second question about accountability, accountability, and anyone holding these individuals accountable. The question, and the answer is absolutely not. Because it continues to happen. And the reason why it continues to happen is the unwillingness of elected officials to divest the peculiar relationship between law enforcement and the prosecutors and the judges, because for the most part in the criminal system, you have the law enforcement bringing the cases to the prosecutor and ultimately to the judge. So there is a peculiar relationship there, not so much so with the bench, but more so with the prosecutor, that they don’t want to disrupt that, that relationship and cause their other cases, to to drag, because police feel like they’re being held accountable, so they don’t want to help the prosecutor to deal with crime. We’re seeing a little bit of that in Atlanta with the backlash to the protests. They had the blue flu where officers called out because two officers were held accountable for the killing of Rayshard Brooks.
And so that’s one of the main issues. And then to your first question, is there some type of citizens review panel? In Atlanta, yes, there is a citizens review panel is called the Atlanta citizens Review Board. But they have very limited power, they can make recommendations. They just got subpoena power, but they cannot make determinations on whether to hire and fire, that is solely in the purview of the Atlanta police chief. And the police chief answers only to the mayor. Same thing with statewide there is no citizens review board. So we really don’t know the scope and breadth of all of these issues. And it goes back to those two cases that are highlighted. The Supreme Court has given great deference and latitude to law enforcement officers because of the dangerous nature of their job. But it just seems like that nature of that job is not as dangerous in certain communities. But it seems to be super dangerous in other communities. I’ll give you a perfect example. Mr. Atchison was shot while he was unarmed in a closet given up for an allegation that turned out to be unfounded, while we had armed insurrection is running through the Capitol and police officers helping them down the stairs and letting them go back home. So you see the double standard, and it hurts my heart as an officer of the court, as an attorney to have to say this, but yes, there are two justice systems in America. And we have to fix that problem. It’s time for the attorneys and the judges, that third branch of government, that third co equal branch to hold these individuals accountable. And it starts with charging and convicting officers that violate the public trust. There are laws on the books in this state, as well as in the United States that address these issues. But if you don’t have US attorneys, or district attorneys, or Attorney Generals that will charge these individuals and ultimately let a jury make the determination of their guilt or innocence, you’re going to continue to have police officers act as executioners on the side of the road.
Priscilla Ocen 38:39
Thank you. Mr. Hill, would you like to respond to any of the questions that were posed by a commissioner Roberts or Commissioner Uwaifo before?
Jimmy Hill 38:49
Okay, yes, before, I have to thank God for giving our family, guiding us, giving us strength and giving us peace, as we made it this far because without Him I know we couldn’t have made it. And I had to pay my respects. to Jimmy’s grandmother Elizabeth Atchison who loved him very much, he loved her very much. She passed away she held on long as she could. She passed away a day after our second anniversary of the death of Jimmy Atchison, and she’s truly being missed. Let’s not forget, Sung Kim was a 26 year veteran of Atlanta police force, a 26 year old. Also I want to add, on February 13 2019, 22 days after my son Jimmy Atchison was murdered. Frank Roach, a white American dentist in Brookhaven, Georgia had a 10 hour standoff with police in which SWAT was called. The proper procedures SWAT was called. They sent a robot in to go room by room. They flash banged and tear gassed. And when they entered, when they entered, there was an arrest warrant for shooting at his girlfriend. And when they enter the room there was a tussle with Frank Roach, he was in a small room like my son, Jimmy Atchison, and an arsenal of guns were found, and according to the DeKalb county police, they brought him out without a scratch. For, three officers in a room, along with Sung Kim, with my son, Jimmy Atchison, so he’s surrounded. And what I’m saying is police, always after they kill, they want to hide behind their badge and say that famous line, fear for my life. Three officers, four officers have guns drawn. Why, why only one shot. And everybody knows, if these officers fear for, Sung Kim life, or they fear for their lives with their weapons drawn, my son, would have so many bullet holes in him that you wouldn’t have been able to count. So I can’t understand why as long as, and with as much pressure we put on Atlanta mayor Keisha Bottoms to get to pow how, she kept, complained about pow, how to get the officers to be interviewed, because they had conflicting statements.
And one more thing I just want to say. A lot of police units used to deal with armed robbers, armed robbers and murderers and everything. Why was there 11th Atlanta police officers and on a couple of federal officers. What was the reason to get the federal the feds involved? Why what’s the real reason what it just to get a license to kill? To up, the up the arms, the pressure and the level of intensity up? My son Jimmy Atchison, he didn’t, he I’m not gonna say Jimmy was perfect. But I know Jimmy didn’t deserve to die in this type of manner.
Priscilla Ocen 42:17
Thank you very much, Mr. Hill. We have about eight minutes left in the hearing. So I just wanted to remind everyone that we will conclude at 7:50 here. And that would be 10:50 on the East Coast. So we have about eight more minutes. So we have a little bit more time for questions. So once again, I’ll go to Commissioners Uwaifo, and Commissioners Roberts, if you have any additional questions you’d like to pose to our witnesses.
Hannibal Uwaifo 42:50
Thank you very much. I got just got a little bit of a question. Because I’m not trying to be divisive or trying to be racist or something of that nature. But I want to find out what has been the reaction of the Black population that has been in the police force, are in a police force the United States. In the US, when we have a situation like this, from what I have seen, and from what I’ve observed, it’s more like, more like you know, you go out once it’s Black, you feel free to do what you like. And then it continues on and on and on. But if Blacks and those who have got people in the police, what has been the reaction? Because when you have a group of people working together, I suppose every policeman in the United States or the police or politicians, I don’t know what copy, what language they’re also got. And we believe that as you flock together over time, there should be a kind of reaction coming from them to say , hey guys, why is this happening and happening and happening. If it is to such a level to start breaking the conscience of your fellow white police officers. I have not been in the US, although I’d like to see US once in a while but I’m not in a position to know if… I just want to find out what’s been the typical reaction of the Blacks who are uniformed. Are they very comfortable with this? Have there been any complaints to the other union? Do they have advice for the Black community? Because this is a very serious problem that must be solved in one way or the other. We must get to the bottom of this. And the United States must be true, until it is free, to be accountable, to explain what it preaches. I just stop with this question. Thank you.
Priscilla Ocen 45:19
Thank you, Commissioner. And before you respond, Mr. Griggs, I just want to give Commissioner Roberts an opportunity to also pose a question and then I’ll turn it over. Then I’ll turn it over to you both to respond.
Sir Clare Roberts 45:32
Very quickly. Mr. Griggs and Mr. Hill if he wishes, what would be your sort of your wish list of recommendations, your wishes of measures that would get to the root of the racism in the police department which result in these discriminatory killings?
Priscilla Ocen 46:00
Thank you very much, Commissioner. So the two questions, one from Commissioner Uwaifo is what’s the reaction of Black police officers across the country to this raft of police killings of unarmed Black people across the country? And then the second from Commissioner Roberts is, you know, if you if you could, you know, if you had a magic wand, what kind of recommendations would you Institute? What kind of changes would you make? So I’ll turn it over to Mr. Griggs. And then Mr. Hill.
Gerald Griggs 46:34
Great, and thank you for both of those questions. And, and the response has been mixed. You know, I’ve had opportunity to meet with members of NOBLE, that’s the African American police union national police union, is the national organization of Black Law Enforcement executives. And, and sometimes they’ve given voice to this issue, but for the most part, they’ve been silent. And many of the Black officers stand behind the blue wall. And they talk about this not being a systemic problem. And that it’s a few bad apples. But we all know that a few bad apples spoil the bunch. So we would like for our brothers and sisters in the blue, that happen to be Black, to start upholding their oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and to and to implement the laws against their brothers in blue as well. That does not need to be a separate system of justice. So there’s not been enough outcry, they try to do outreach in the community, to not talk about the problem and talk about other things. But the problem is systemic, and they need to address it. And they need to realize it. Black 24/7 and only blue for eight hours.
And then the second question that you asked about if I had a magic wand, I think and one of the members in the chat said this as well, we have to recognize the original sin in America, and that is African chattel slavery. And we have to remember the origin of policing in America, they came from slave catchers. So we have to realize that we have to reform or reimagine it from its core Inception and root out the systemic racist policies that are embedded in law enforcement. So if I had a magic wand, one that would be an indictment against the United States of America for the continued systemic racism, and systemic oppression of people of color, particularly African Americans in this country, and two, the imagining of what public safety and policing look like, in communities of color, allowing the community to drive the conversation. We’re done hearing from police officers, they have proven that they cannot do this in a way that reflects the will and the beliefs of the community. It’s time for the community to determine what public safety should look like. So again, an indictment against the United States for this repeated systemic racism and police brutality. And two, a reimagining from a public perspective of community public safety are the things that I would I would request happening, and then of course, police accountability, these officers that commit crimes against citizens should be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Priscilla Ocen 49:28
And about one minute left, and with that, I would like to Mr. Hill to give us any last words, particularly on what you would change in response to Commissioner Roberts question if you have the power. And again, we have about one minute left. Apologies for the short time but I wanted to make sure you got the last word as Jimmy Atchison’s father.
Jimmy Hill 49:52
Okay, thank you. And I thank everyone for being a part of this panel. You know, it’s time to everyone to wake up. It’s time for a change, it’s time to stop living in two Americas because that’s what that’s what it’s about. I think a lot of black police officers does not give a damn until it hits their house at their doorsteps. I think some afraid of repercussions. Like I say it’s just time for a change, time for people to wake up and, and see what’s really happening. So it’s time for self, a self examination of each of us in America. Police Brutality must be stopped. Police brutality continues to separate and tear apart the Black family in Black America. Separate us. And it is time to come together, for all Americans to come together and stop this, stop police brutality. It must be stopped. It must end. And its – you know enough is enough.
Priscilla Ocen 51:00
Thank you very much, Mr. Hill. And I think we’ll end there. Now, can you all hear me?
Jimmy Hill 51:11
Sir Clare Roberts 51:11
Yes we can.
Priscilla Ocen 51:13
Oh, okay. Sorry. My screen froze. So we’ll conclude there, with that last word from Mr. Jimmy Hill. Jimmy Atchison’s father. Thank you very much for your comments. Thank you, Attorney Griggs, for your testimony in your presentation. Thank you to our commissioners, Uwaifo and Roberts. This concludes the hearing of the case of Jimmy Atchison. We will now have a short break. Hearings will resume on the hour which is 8am here on the West Coast 11am on the East Coast, with the case of Tamir Rice. And so we’ll see you all again here shortly. Thank you very much.
Jimmy Hill 51:55
Gerald Griggs 51:56
Thank you for having me.