Relatives sue Atlanta city after police officer killed black teen

Family's lawyer says the officer 'emptied his gun' into 18-year-old D'ettrick Griffin during alleged car theft attempt.

    Police killings in Atlanta have prompted protests in the past [File: David Goldman/AP photo]
    Police killings in Atlanta have prompted protests in the past [File: David Goldman/AP photo]

    Relatives of an African American teenager fatally shot by Atlanta police are suing the city for five million dollars, saying that the police officer who opened fire did not need to "execute" the teen. 

    The wrongful death lawsuit, reported by local news outlet WXIA-TV on Thursday, was filed by the family of 18-year-old D'ettrick Griffin, who was killed last month while allegedly attempting to steal an unmarked police car in Atlanta, the capital of the US state Georgia. 

    "Even though my son did wrong, it was not left up to him (the officer) to execute my son," Gaysha Glover, Griffin's mother, told the local 11Alive news programme. 

    "My son did not have a weapon and he was going away from him," Glover said. "That's a police car, it has a GPS system. It could have easily been found."

    In comments to 11Alive, Jonathan Hibbert, the family's lawyer, said there were "no grounds for the officer to have emptied his gun into the body of D'ettrick Griffin".

    Hibbert added, "Grand theft auto itself does not carry the capital punishment." 

    Atlanta police have identified the officer as Oliver Simmonds.

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    The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says a preliminary investigation has found that the plain-clothes officer was pumping petrol when Griffin got into the city-issued car.

    According to the GBI, Simmonds shot Griffin as the teen attempted to drive away. Griffin crashed into two vehicles and was found dead in the car. The GBI's preliminary investigation found that the teen was unarmed. Simmonds is a member of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms's executive protection unit.

    According to the Washington Post's Fatal Force database, police killed at least 998 individuals in 2018; so far this year, police have used deadly force against at least 78 people. 

    In recent years, the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement has protested, marched and rallied across the country to push back against US police departments' disproportionate killing of African Americans. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies