Mother upset after police cameras failed to work where son was killed

by: Amy Napier Viteri Updated:


ATLANTA - The mother of a murder victim is outraged that surveillance cameras near where her son was found were not working.

Now, Channel 2 Action News has learned the City of Atlanta has fired the vendor responsible for installing wireless surveillance cameras throughout downtown.

There's no way to know what the camera would have shown the night someone shot Joe Frierson to death on Walker Street in September, but Channel 2's Amy Napier Viteri has learned that's because of a technical issue with the camera.

"There's no excuse for them not being operational. There's no excuse for us coming up with so many loose ends right now," Joe Frierson's mother, Tonella, told Viteri.

Frierson is desperate for any clue in the murder of her son. Students and staff held a vigil Wednesday at Martin Luther King High School, where the 37-year-old taught history.

Police said someone shot and killed Frierson Sept. 28 in Atlanta's Castleberry Hill neighborhood. There are several surveillance cameras in the area where his body was found, but Viteri learned none were working that night.

"Those cameras could have offered insight into exactly what happened that time," Tonella Frierson said.

"We feel her frustration. We mourn her loss. This is a technical issue we had with the vendor, and as soon as we found out aboutit, we took significant steps to correct it," Deputy Chief Joseph Spillane of the Atlanta Police Department said.

Spillane said 92 wireless cameras went up over the summer. Many had some initial trouble relaying images back to their integration center. As a backup all were supposed to record video onto a card.

When investigators came to check that video after Frierson's death, they learned the backup recording never happened.

"The fact is we didn't know the cameras were not properly configured until we pulled that SD card. So we were relying on the failsafe," Spillane told Viteri.

Spillane said the vendor failed to correctly configure the cameras.

"They failed to fix it properly. We suspended that contract," Spillane said.

Frierson said without knowing what cameras would have shown, she's counting on someone who knows what happened to come forward.

Atlanta police said over the last two weeks, they have checked each of the 92 wireless cameras throughout downtown and reprogrammed some of them to make sure they are recording video as a backup.

Neighbors said in the future, they would like to know when there's an issue with cameras in their community.

Anyone with information on Joe Frierson's death is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477.

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