DA won't seek charges against APD officers in Alexia Christian case

Tuesday July 19, 2016 04:57 pm EDT

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ulton County District Attorney Paul Howard will not seek charges against the two Atlanta Police Department officers who shot and killed Alexia Christian, a 26-year-old African-American woman whom the department says opened fire while she sat in the back of a squad car.

n April 30, 2015, APD Officers Jeffery Cook and Omar Thyme found Christian in a pick-up truck that had been reported stolen and was parked in an Underground Atlanta parking deck. The two officers, who are both black, arrested Christian, handcuffed her behind her back, and placed the suspect in the back of their squad car.

PD said after the killing that Christian had somehow slipped one hand out of a handcuff and fired a Taurus .380 pistol three times at the officers, who were sitting in the front seat. Officers fired a total of 10 rounds in return, fatally wounding her.

he killing was APD’s second officer-involved shooting of 2015 and took place during the height of national awareness about police misconduct and racial injustice. Activists and Christian’s family pressed APD for information about the crime and for transparency. In September 2015, APD handed over the investigation to the DA. Nearly a year has passed without any updates, Felecia Christian, Alexia’s mother, said on Friday.

n a statement released Friday night, Howard said he would not seek charges against the officers or the county 911 operator who failed to inform APD officers that a pistol was in the stolen vehicle, leading them not to search for a weapon when they arrested Christian.

ours before Howard’s announcement, Christian’s family, along with their lawyer Mawuli Davis, met with Howard to review the evidence of the case. Davis expressed concern over officers’ failure to follow procedure and APD allegedly stonewalling DA officials during the initial investigation.

avis said a “folly of errors placed Ms. Christian in a very dangerous situation which, ultimately, she paid for with her life.” He said officers failed to properly frisk her and, after placing her in the back of their squad car, did not turn on the rear camera.”

ideo shot from a dash camera exists, Davis said, as does an audio recording. According to Davis, officers can be heard on the audio recording yelling at Christian to “drop the gun.” Davis says Christian can be heard saying that she doesn’t have a gun. Shell casings and a gun were found in the car, Davis said. CL has requested the case file from APD.

avis said the police department’s insistence on investigating itself created roadblocks and tainted evidence. He says Howard said APD refused to allow DA investigators to examine the crime scene and immediately repaired the squad car and put the vehicle back on patrol.

??To say this is an investigatory mess is an understatement,” said Davis, who’s considering the family’s next legal move.

ince Christian’s killing, the APD now asks the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate officer-involved shootings. Officer Lukasz Sajdak, an APD spokesman, said in a statement that the department is still conducting an internal investigation into this incident, “and thus, cannot discuss the specific evidence related case.” Cook is on full-duty status and thyme is no longer with the force, Sajdak said.

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