As Atlanta prepares to host the Super Bowl on Sunday, two local families are grieving the loss of two young Black men.
Jimmy Atchison and D'ettrick Griffin died in officer-involved shootings within a week of each other, reports NBC News. Tammie Featherstone, Atchinson’s aunt, said her nephew’s death was put "on the back burner because of the Super Bowl."
Family attorney Tanya Miller believes Atchinson’s death should be taking priority over a football game.
"It shouldn't be forgotten that the shooting happened just before the Super Bowl, at a time when people have been seeing football as a symbol of protest in light of Colin Kaepernick bringing attention to police brutality and injustice," Miller said.
A police spokesman denied the claims.
Atchinson, 21, died on January 22 after a federal task force attempted to serve him with an armed robbery warrant, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. When he encountered the officers, he tried to flee the scene.
“He jumped out of a window of one of the apartments, jumped down a couple of floors,” FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said. “There was a foot chase that ensued into another apartment building, into another apartment. That’s where the suspect was confronted by a task force officer on the (Atlanta Metro Major Offender) task force, and the suspect was eventually shot and killed.”
Atchinson’s family believes the young father of two was shot in the face while he was hiding in a closet. They also say he was unarmed. An autopsy will be performed to determine how he died.
The incident is currently under investigation. The officer who fired the fatal shot has not been identified and is on leave.
D'ettrick Griffin died on January 15 after he tried to steal a plainclothes officer’s car at a gas station, according to WXIA. The officer fired his weapon as the 18-year-old attempted to drive away. Griffin’s family also believe he was unarmed.
“Just because this officer was upset that somebody may have offended him or jumped in his car – whatever actually occurred – we see no grounds for the officer to have emptied his gun into the body of D’ettrick Griffin,” said family attorney Jonathan Hibbert.
The teen’s father says he wasn’t able to see his son until the morning after his death even though he rushed to the scene.
“I just got a phone call that said my son was up the street and was shot by a cop,” Courtney Griffin said. “I got up, I called (his mom) and my first thought was, ‘just get there.’ I got to the scene … I was just two minutes away. I asked all of the officers. I showed them pictures of my son. They kept saying, ‘we can’t tell you. We don’t know.’ I went around the whole block asking different officers and they never told me, for four hours they never told me. My son was sitting in the cold for four hours, dead for four hours, and nothing? It took my soul away from me.”
Gaysha Glover, D’ettrick’s mother, says her son was four months away from his high school graduation and aspired to be an aviation mechanic.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is currently investigating the death.
Mothers of the Movement mentioned Atchinson’s death and Kaepernick’s movement in their statement declining Jermaine Dupri’s invitation to his Super Bowl Live event. Their decision was prompted by a picture of Dupri posing with the Lombardi trophy.
“Last year, Former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick lost his job for taking a knee, a peaceful protest, against police brutality in Black communities,” it read. “It is only January 30, 2019, and there have already been 56 people killed by police in America, including 21-year-old Jimmy Atchison in historic southwest Atlanta. The father of two was shot in the face. He was unarmed.”
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