Atlanta Pulls All Officers From Federal Task Force After Shooting

The Atlanta mayor and police chief have ordered all the city's officers off federal task forces over a bodycam dispute.

Atlanta, GA – The mayor of Atlanta and that city’s police chief pulled all their police officers off of the federal task forces on which they were serving after a request to have the officers wear bodycams was declined.

The impetus for the decision was a shooting that occurred during a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) task force service of a warrant in January, WXIA reported.

Jimmy Atchison, 21, was fatally shot by Atlanta Police Officer Sung Kim during that raid.

Atchison was wanted on an armed robbery charge and was hiding in a closet at his apartment complex when he was killed, WGCL reported.

Afterward, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms and Police Chief Erika Shields insisted that, in the future, all Atlanta police officers wear bodycams during all operations, WXIA reported.

But federal agencies informed Atlanta officials that officers on task forces would not be allowed to wear bodycams.

“The Mayor and the Chief have insisted that Atlanta Police officers on that task force – as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and the U.S. Marshal’s Southeast Regional Task Force – wear body-worn cameras when on duty,” the Atlanta Police Department said in a statement to WGCL. “When it was made clear that APD officers would not be allowed to wear body-worn cameras while serving on these task forces, the decision was made to pull them from those duties.”

In the wake of that officer-involved shooting, the police chief called for new bodycam policies with stricter penalties for officers who do not activate their bodycams, according to WXIA.

Chief Shields proposed a 16-day suspension for the first offense of failing to activate a bodycam and termination for a second offense.

"Mayor Bottoms and Chief Shields have said repeatedly that they believe in creating a culture of transparency at APD through widespread deployment and use of body-worn cameras," Atlanta Police Public Affairs Officer Stephanie Brown said in a statement.

"The City believes that the public trust we lose from not wearing body cameras is not worth whatever gains we achieve by continuing to serve on these missions without the accountability that body cameras can provide," Officer Brown said.

The federal agencies who have lost Atlanta officers from their task forces have expressed regret and said they will still support the police department.

“The United States Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force has had a long and successful partnership with the Atlanta Police Department. Our collaborative effort has resulted in several hundred fugitives wanted by the APD for violent felonies being located and arrested every year,” the U.S. Marshals told WGCL in a statement.

“We are sad to see this partnership come to an end, but are always willing to assist the APD if asked in the future. Our task force’s mission is to locate and arrest those charged with committing violent felony crimes. This is an important mission that we will continue to perform for the citizens of Atlanta, the Metropolitan area, and the rest of the state of Georgia,” the statement said.

Atchison’s family has looked to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office for answers on what happened the night the 21 year old was killed, but haven’t gotten much information from that avenue because the FBI was handling the death investigation, not the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

That means the district attorney’s office does not have access to the weapons and physical evidence involved in the incident, WGCL reported.

“It’s also important to point out, even though the local police departments require their officers to wear and use body cameras, for some reason, federal law enforcement are not required to do the same,” the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “We understand that the local law enforcement officers involved in the incident erroneously believed they were not required to wear the cameras. The lack of body camera footage creates a substantial gap in the normal investigative process.”

“We will conduct an investigation, but because of the circumstances that I’ve outlined, it will probably take more time and present a greater degree of difficulty in reaching a conclusion,” the prosecutor’s office said.

Comments (40)
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Ibizian
Ibizian

I was LEO way before body cams but back then I remember a new device coming out on tasers (that i also predate) but the instant the taser was pulled from its holster, a camera activated...

Most cops have lights on their sidearms so adding a small cam isn't that big a deal. That way any use of upgraded force is automatically captured..

Personally, I'm mixed about the use of cams. Street cops know that sometimes their use of "discretion" on small things to get info on big things, does not need to be on camera. But then there's that fine line some officers cross.. Not so good.

However, use of upgraded force, (anything not just hands on) should be on cam..

Yet, the unknown, like the officer on a traffic stop being bribed, not was he glad him camera was on and captured to prove his innocence!!

So I see the value on both sides. And in this specific case, feds do not want their undercover task force on camera not controlled by them. Great way to burn every undercover federal officer by having one briefing or sting put on Facebook or youtube...

Dutchuncle
Dutchuncle

Body cams have done more to Protect POLICE OFFICERS then to help the liars that accuse them, Can't see why the Fed does not want them.

Trueferblue
Trueferblue

It seems body cameras can cover an officer's unnecessary use of force if the alleged victim files a complaint or lawsuit, however, seems the "alledgedly victims" still want to "cry foul" even though the camera proves otherwise. So, as Hillary Clinton put it, "What difference, at this point, does it make"?!!!

TarnishedCopper
TarnishedCopper

Somehow back in the Stone Age we survived without cameras. As a retiree of 30 years service, I regard a body camera as a violation of MY First Amendment Right to have a private conversation with citizens who often gave me information resulting in an arrest and solving a case. Despite cops having cameras to record a cops' every heartbeat we still have morons alleging all kinds of made-up crap. The cops are cleared, but are the people ever charged with making false reports, interference, etc? The answer is a resounding "NO." I look at these cameras in about the same light as Stun Guns, Tasers, Pepper Spray, Less Lethal launchers etc. Instead of teaching courses in how to use this junk how about we teach officers how to communicate with people, how to treat people, and how to get people to do what is needed without having to use any kind of force? Given it will not work in every case, but many of the pint-sized cops hired today with their college degrees, have no "gift of gab" to help them perform their duties. They also have no life skills whatsoever and have never worked anywhere else doing anything else.

Grog
Grog

A liberal mayor and a political hack police chief who does as the mayor says.

tfort
tfort

If you have nothing to hide, then you shouldn’t have a problem wearing a camera.

Olehippie
Olehippie

OK WAIT! TIME OUT STOP SHOOTING! Where's that damn camera button. Oh there it is. OK start shooting again.

Old Hawg
Old Hawg

Is there a widespread failure of Atlanta officers failing to activate body cameras? If not, the consequences for failure to do so strikes me as being somewhat draconian.

Sgvette
Sgvette

The use of the cams usually prove innocence of officers involved in incidents, although the cop hate crowd can never wrap their heads around that.

BillR.
BillR.

Chicago and Atlanta seem to be in a tie for First in the Race to the Bottom

Gerne
Gerne

Cops are criminals. They lie to work the dark. Video interferes with their habitual lies.

61mouse
61mouse

I love watching LIVE PD and the ones that would usually be the ones to be video taping police , but when they they see they are being taped they have a fit and say you can't be video taping me and bah bah . But they usually already have body came on themselves, and when the police point that out to the thugs they shut up .

dondamit
dondamit

Why not figure out how the cams come on as they exit their car

hleinen
hleinen

I support her decision. The footage can be used to ID feds. As a retired fed, I always hide my profession.

Paul Kersey Jr.
Paul Kersey Jr.

Body Cams are pretty much useless for their stated purpose. Nothing will change police behavior in America except serious legislative reform at the federal level - chance of that - 0%. So the beat goes on. Of course the Feds don't want the locals filming them, something embarrassing might be captured - most inconvenient. Anybody who thinks cops can be deterred from misconduct by body cams has been in a coma for the last 4 years or so. Anybody who believes we still live in a Constitutional Republic is brain dead.