Atlanta Police Shooting of Unarmed Motorist Highlights Patterns of Discrimination and Abuse

Atlanta police

This week, the Atlanta police shot at a motorist attempting to cross an intersection after being directed by officers. According to the unnamed officer, the victim, Noel Hall, sped toward him at the intersection, prompting him to pull his gun and fire a shot, injuring Hall. While the driver lived, he has yet to be charged with a crime. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is still looking into the incident, indicating charges may be in the officer’s future. Atlanta PD has had no less than five shootings of unarmed subjects in the last nine months, making them one of the more controversial agencies around.

Hall was leaving the Georgia Dome in Atlanta when he encountered the officer directing traffic. According to the GBI, Hall disregarded the officer’s directions and drove his white van forward in his direction. They advised they don’t know what prompted the officer to pull his gun and fire. The officer is said to be a supervisor at the agency. The fact that Hall has not been charged is very telling. Police typically have a slew of charges waiting in the wings for those they wish to lock up, however, in this case, Hall was let go. The GBI advised they will release more information as it becomes available.

This isn’t the only officer-involved shooting of an unarmed person in Atlanta in recent days. On Jan. 26, 2017, Atlanta cops murdered Deaundre Philips. Philips was seated in his car near a police annex, when two plainclothes officers approached him, believing he was smoking marijuana. Surveillance video surfaced revealing the lies the cops maintained about the circumstances surrounding their stop. Philips pulls away from the parking lot when one of the officers hops completely into his car as it pulls away. Moments later, the officer in the vehicle shoots Philips in the head. The GBI is aware of the lies told by the officers and is currently investigating Philips’ death.

In June 2016, Atlanta Officer James R. Burns blindly fired his weapon into a vehicle, not knowing if the vehicle he was attacking was even involved in his call. According to investigators, Burns responded to an apartment complex looking for a vehicle. He claims that the vehicle he shot at drove towards him, causing him to fire his gun, however, dash cam footage of the incident undermined his account of events. The Atlanta Police Chief even rejected his version of events and turned the case over to state investigators.

To date, black victims of police brutality and police shootings account for 76% of all incidents. The rate of murder of blacks between the ages of 15 and 19 was 21 times higher than whites. Atlanta is a city with a high African-American population and high numbers of black police officers, however, the statistics surrounding police violence show clear patterns of discrimination and misconduct. Over the last few years, dozens of unarmed black residents have been killed by Atlanta’s cops. With more than a few occurring in the last few months, perhaps now is the time for the Department of Justice to step in.

Sources: AJC, AJC Video, Atlanta Black Star.

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