COBB COUNTY, Ga. — The family of a teenager killed by police wants Cobb County to pay them $50 million or face a lawsuit.
A Cobb County police officer shot 17-year-old Vincent Truitt twice in the back as he ran away.
“Cobb County! The blood is on your hands,” said Truitt’s grandmother Deborah Johnson. “You can do the right thing or you can be forced to do the right thing.”
At a news conference Friday, Truitt’s family wore shirts that said “Why did you shoot me?”
Those were the teen’s dying words.
Truitt’s family and their attorneys learned that when former Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes met with the family in November and showed them body camera footage of the fatal shooting.
Last fall, law enforcement sources also corroborated the details of the body camera video to Channel 2 Cobb County Bureau Chief Chris Jose.
“Since when did running away become a death sentence?” said Truitt’s mother, Venethia Cook-Lewis. “This officer not only killed Vincent, but he killed me, too.”
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In a legal document called an ante litem notice, addressed to Cobb Commission Chairwoman Lisa Cupid and Cobb Police Chief Tim Cox, the family’s attorneys presented a claim for excessive force and wrongful death.
“This is a case where clearly it’s not just excessive force, this was a murder. This was a murder of an innocent young man that was literally running away from police. [He] did not pose a threat in any way,” said Truitt family attorney Jackie Patterson.
Patterson said Cobb County has 30 days to respond. If the $50 million settlement is declined, a lawsuit will be filed.
“No amount of money will bring my son back. No amount of money will fill the emptiness inside my heart. No amount of money will help my sleepless nights. Money won’t make it right,” said Cook-Lewis. “Cobb County, release the tapes. The same way you released several false statements. The public should know the truth.”
On July 13, 2020, Cobb Police said the driver of a stolen car led officers on a chase down Riverside Parkway near Six Flags Over Georgia.
Truitt was a passenger.
When the chase ended behind a warehouse, Truitt’s attorneys said the teen tried to run away. An officer fired two shots to his back.
He died alone at Grady Hospital on July 14, a day before his mother’s birthday.
Police claim Truitt had a gun in his hand.
“We want the firing of that officer, and we want the termination of [Police Chief] Tim Cox,” said Truitt family attorney Gerald Griggs.
Griggs and his co-counsel, Maria Banjo, told reporters there is sufficient probable cause for newly-elected Cobb County District Attorney Flynn Broady to present the case to a magistrate court judge and obtain an arrest warrant for the officer involved.
“On the face of this [body camera] video, there is sufficient probable cause for his arrest,” said Banjo.
The day after his election victory, Broady told Channel 2′s Mark Winne that he would release the tape to the public with the family’s permission, or as part of the case as it moves forward.
That has not happened.
A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office said Broady has no plans to release the body camera video before the case is presented to a grand jury.
“As of right now, it is an active case, and we don’t release evidence in active cases,” said Kim Isaza.
The attorneys also called for the officer’s name to be released.
In an interview with Jose last fall, Cox said the officer has been reassigned and is active on the force.
In a statement to Jose, Cupid said: “I have been watching developments in this tragic case and sympathize with the family’s frustration. I support our district attorney’s efforts to move this case forward, as the family and the public deserve answers after such a long period of time.”
Truitt would have been 18 years old next month.
A birthday celebration in his memory is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 30 at Mozely Park in Atlanta.
Cox Media Group