COBB COUNTY, Ga. - The Cobb County police officer who fired eight shots at a 16-year-old as he ran home is now off the job.
Channel 2 Action News obtained exclusive body-camera video of the shooting. But Channel 2’s Mark Winne learned the officer was cleared in the shooting.
Records indicated officer James Caleb Elliot had already served notice of his resignation days before the shooting, but a lawyer for the family of the teen who was shot said she's preparing to file suit.
The family's lawyer said the 16-year-old shouldn't have run, but he panicked.
“[He] did what kids do who panic, he tried to run home. And he didn’t make it home,” said the family's attorney, Tanya Miller.
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But she said the then-Cobb police officer shouldn't have shot at the unarmed teen, even once, let alone eight times as he ran through his Cobb County neighborhood in November.
“Those bullets landed everywhere,” Miller said. “For lack of a better word. I mean this is a residential neighborhood.”
Elliott's lawyer said, "He acted lawfully… and a grand jury agreed."
Miller said it started when Elliott responded to a suspicious-vehicle call. He gathered initial information but then found out the car, which had four young people in it, had been reported carjacked, Miller said. Elliot pulled his gun and advanced on the car.
Miller said Tahirahana Williams' son, the driver, shouldn’t have been in the car but wasn't involved in the alleged carjacking three days earlier. Panicked, he took off running. Miller said Elliot ran after him and fired what he later claimed to be a warning shot.
And fired seven more times, from a distance, near houses. At some point, one house caught two rounds and the teen got hit in the back of the leg.
"Law enforcement don’t get to choose where confrontations occur, therefore they don't get to choose where they use deadly force," Elliott’s lawyer, Lance LoRusso, said.
LoRusso said he cooperated with a GBI investigation and “he acted heroically and employed a tremendous amount of training to render first aid immediately on the scene."
District Attorney Vic Reynolds said the shooting was justifiable under the law and a grand jury recommended no charges against Elliot.
When asked if it was a close call, Reynolds responded, “It was closer than most. It was.”
Miller, a former prosecutor herself, said the shooting was not justified.
The DA suggested it was legally justifiable because the officer could've believed he was chasing a carjacker, a violent felon, even if it turned out he wasn't.
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