ATLANTA — One of the Atlanta police officers charged in the Tasing of two college students during a protest is under investigation for a 2016 shooting that left a mentally-ill man dead.
Jamarion Rashad Robinson, 26, was killed in August 2016 after federal authorities say they went to serve a warrant on him in his girlfriend’s East Point apartment. They believed he fit the description of someone who had pointed a gun at Atlanta police officers days earlier.
Autopsy reports show Robinson was shot 76 times by members of federal task force. According to court filings it is still unclear whether Robinson was armed, and none of the officers were using body cameras.
“There’s no evidence there was a gun,” said Monteria Robinson, Jamarion’s mother. "We know that was their narrative,” she told Channel 2 Action News investigative reporter Nicole Carr.
Robinson had no criminal history, and was a former Clark Atlanta student. At the time of his death, he was a student-athlete at Tuskegee University. His family said he was schizophrenic.
“Do I believe my son was the person they were looking for? No I do not. I don’t know if you all recall — on the scene, they showed my mother and two brothers a photo of the person they were looking for and it was not my son.”
Several Fulton, Clayton, Fayette and APD officers were serving on the task force alongside U.S. Marshals, including Willie Sauls. Sauls, a 27-year veteran of Atlanta police, is currently being charged with aggravated assault and property damage in the AUC student case from last weekend. Warrants accuse of him of breaking Taniyah Pilgrim’s window and using the Taser gun on her.
In the Robinson case, he was also accused of using excessive force.
The federal suit filed by Robinson’s family includes GBI reports and analysis, accusing Sauls of using a battering ram during what was supposed to be a knock warrant operation. It goes on to describe Sauls as dragging Robinson’s body down a staircase after he was shot dozens of times. Task force members handcuffed his corpse.
"He lay there for over eight hours where he bled out,” said Robinson. “No ambulance was called, no medical aid was rendered.”
Records show at some point before Sauls and a partner went to retrieve Robinson’s body, a flash bang was deployed.
More than 20 seconds later, there was another round of automatic gunfire, but none of the officers have been able to tell investigators who fired the rounds.
In late 2018, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard sued the Department of Justice, saying they were blocking him from speaking to the officers and from obtaining evidence in the case. The DOJ is representing the officers involved.
According to emails in court filings, the criminal case remains open in Fulton County.
In 2019, another deadly shooting involving an APD officer on the federal task force ended Jimmy Atchison’s life.
At that time, Atlanta Police Chief Ericka Shields pulled APD officers from the task force. It was part of the same reason there have been evidentiary delays in the Robinson case — the task force members were not wearing activated body cameras, and they were not required to do it.
Because of the pending civil case, neither Sauls’ attorney in the student case nor the police union would comment. DOJ records show two U.S. attorneys representing him in the civil case.
“The US Attorney’s office is representing him because he was acting under the authority of the federal government, under the Department of Justice, explained legal analyst Esther Panitch. “He was assigned to the U.S. Marshals’ Service.”
Channel 2 Action News and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution show Sauls was involved in other excessive force cases. A deadly shooting case from the mid-90s cost the city $1.4 million. A more recent one involved the death of another unarmed man.
“We know there were no body cams because the feds didn't — they don't — they don't put them on officers, but if you're going to have meaningful change you need to be proactive when you get the first complaint about excessive force,” said Panitch.
Today Monteria Robinson has been seen in the middle of Atlanta protests centered around cases like her son’s, George Floyd’s and Ahmaud Arbery's cases. Robinson’s family grew up with Arbery’s family in South Georgia.
“So when I saw that, it just sent rage all over again,” Robinson told Carr.
“I’m at the point where I’m really tired,” Robinson said. “I’m fed up. I’m angry. That’s where I am right now today.”
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