ATLANTA (CN) – The Atlanta-area district attorney claims in court that the Department of Justice has refused to hand over records about members of a federal task force who fatally shot a black student-athlete at least 59 times.
Jamarion Robinson, a 26-year-old student and football player at Clark Atlanta University, was shot and killed by a team of local and federal officers who broke down the door to his girlfriend’s apartment on Aug. 5, 2016, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Atlanta federal court by the office of Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard.
The DA says he has repeatedly attempted to work with the DOJ to obtain the personnel files and training materials of the officers responsible for Robinson’s death, all to no avail.
“It has now been 875 days since the officers killed Mr. Robinson, and the DOJ has yet to provide any of the documents or evidence requested and has failed to provide any investigative reports relating to Mr. Robinson’s death,” the complaint states.
DA Howard is asking a federal judge to force the DOJ to comply with his requests under the Freedom of Information Act.
According to the complaint, a federal task force comprised of 14 officers from eight local municipal police departments and at least one U.S. marshal went to the apartment to execute a Georgia arrest warrant based on allegations that Robinson committed an aggravated assault.
Robinson was not charged with any federal crime and there was no federal arrest warrant pending for him, the lawsuit states.
Except for a traffic violation, Robinson’s record was clean, the DA says.
The complaint alleges that although the officers knew Robinson suffered from schizophrenia, they did not attempt to coordinate a peaceful surrender and made no effort to enlist the help of his friends or family before confronting him.
The officers also allegedly failed to secure a search warrant despite spending two hours conducting surveillance on the apartment complex and did not get consent to enter the apartment where they believed Robinson was located.
Without any indication that Robinson had a weapon or presented a threat to the officers, the task force knocked the apartment door down and immediately fired 51 shots from outside into the apartment, the lawsuit states.
According to the complaint, the officers then entered the apartment and fired 41 more shots from various weapons “including a 9mm submachine gun, a .40mm submachine gun, and a .40 Glock pistol.”
More than 90 rounds were fired into the apartment, DA Howard claims.
“The medical examiner recorded over 59 entry wounds into Mr. Robinson’s body. Without the documents requested, described herein, there is a question as to whether Mr. Robinson’s killing was justified,” the complaint states.
Although a firearm was found inside the apartment after the shooting was over, it was damaged and inoperable, according to the complaint.
The officers claimed Robinson used the gun to fire at them three times but the DA’s lawsuit expresses doubt about that.
“In an investigative report completed by Officer Steve Schreckengost, he did not state that the officers entered the premises because Mr. Robinson was shooting. Rather, Officer Schreckengost claims they entered to protect others inside the apartment from Mr. Robinson, although it was clear from their surveillance no one else was in the apartment,” the complaint states.
A January 2018 federal lawsuit filed by Robinson’s mother, Monteria Robinson, against police officers and detectives involved with the task force alleges that her son posed “no immediate threat” to the officers “or anyone else” at the time of the shooting.
The DA’s office seeks an order enjoining the DOJ from continuing to withhold non-exempt records responsive to the FOIA request and compelling the agency to search for and provide the relevant records.