ATLANTA - In an exclusive interview with Channel 2 Action News, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields said corporate refusal to immediately hand off surveillance video has hindered police work in an Atlantic Station murder investigation.
On Thursday night, APD responded to the shooting death of 21-year-old Malik Mayfield. Mayfield was shot in a west end parking deck at the popular Midtown shopping and residential destination, Atlantic Station.
The shooting happened around 8 p.m., and news outlets obtained images of the scene from viewer cellphone footage. Shields told Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr it’s what happened over the next 15 hours that hindered critical police work.
“We were instructed that they wanted a subpoena, which in and of itself is an unusual request,” Shields told Carr. “But we complied. We got the subpoena. We presented it and there’s still a lengthy debate before they would provide us with the video footage. Meanwhile, I have a homicide suspect out there.”
That subpoena request was made around 10:45 p.m. Atlanta police got hold of the surveillance video about 12 hours later.
“Every minute really counts,” Carr said.
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“Oh, it’s critical,” Shields responded. “I mean, homicides, you have to get a jump on them and this is one of the reasons our team is so successful. We put a team on the homicide on the front end and try to pull up closure within 24 to 48 hours and if we’re languishing while corporate attorneys are reviewing the authenticity of a subpoena, it’s just not reasonable.”
Carr reached out to Atlantic Station after her Friday morning interview with Shields. In part of a statement its private public relations firm forwarded, the corporation defended its actions in the hours after Mayfield’s murder.
“Responding officers were immediately provided access to security camera footage and within one hour of their arrival had determined the make and model of the suspect’s vehicle and obtained license plate information,” the statement read. “APD is fully aware of Atlantic Station’s longstanding policy of allowing review of all security camera footage but requiring a subpoena to release a physical copy of the video.”
Police said viewing the video isn’t enough in the immediate aftermath of a murder. The physical copy is needed to freeze frame and zoom in on footage, as well as analyze and issue BOLOs, and get images out to field investigators.
Atlantic Station’s statement, as well as a letter to businesses and residents, reiterated it is committed to working closely with police in what was characterized as a “contained incident” that didn’t put shoppers at risk.
“They say they’re doing everything to cooperate with you all,” Carr told Shields, referencing the statements. “What goes through your mind?”
“I think that’s a very loose interpretation of cooperation,” Shields said, raising her eyebrow.
Super Bowl concerns
Despite the challenges surrounding evidence seizure, Shields vowed her department would close Mayfield’s murder quickly.
“It was not random and we’re going to make an arrest in this immediately,” she told Carr. “I feel confident.”
As of Friday evening, no suspect description had been made public, nor any arrest announced by police. APD did say a criminal transaction was taking place at the time of the shooting. Attempts to reach Mayfield’s family on Friday were unsuccessful.
The news was still fresh to people walking around Atlantic Station Friday.
“I’ve never heard of anything happening in Atlantic Station,” said Atlanta resident Chad Denton. “Like you say, it’s a pretty safe place.”
“Nobody tell nothing,” another woman told Carr. “Just you all right now.”
A third shopper who didn’t want to be identified called the news concerning, but noted “things happen everywhere.”
But Shields’ lingering concerned focused on what she described as a historically strained relationship with Atlantic Station, a place that’s now synonymous with trouble.
She characterized the subpoena request as unusual.
“The Atlanta Police Department has terrific working relationships with the corporate community and our business partners by and large. It’s fantastic,” she said. “For some reason we’ve had trouble developing that same level of relationship with Atlantic Station. It’s been something we’ve worked through, but it’s really hit a head in the last 24 hours.”
There’s no police record of any other homicide investigation on the Atlantic Station property, which welcomed its first guests in 2005. But when Atlanta welcomes the world to the Super Bowl in 2019, APD and the Midtown entertainment epicenter will need the best relationship possible.
“You know I just feel like this is not in the best interest of the City of Atlanta and we need to change this," Shields said, noting this week’s investigation. “Particularly with the Super Bowl and Atlantic Station hosting NFL events.”
[1/4] Atlantic Station is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for everyone who visits the property. We would like to keep everyone updated on an incident that occurred last night.— Atlantic Station (@AtlanticStation) December 14, 2018
[2/4] On the evening of Dec. 13, 2018, a shooting occurred in the west end of our parking deck. Off-duty Atlanta Police Department officers and our Security Team were on-site and secured the perimeter immediately.— Atlantic Station (@AtlanticStation) December 14, 2018
[3/4] While we cannot release details of the investigation, we can assure you that the incident was contained quickly, and you and your guests were never in danger. We are continuing to work closely with the Atlanta Police Department and support it in any way we can.— Atlantic Station (@AtlanticStation) December 14, 2018
[4/4] Beginning today, Atlantic Station is bringing additional off-duty Atlanta Police Department officers on-site to continue to create a safe district for all visitors. We are available for any questions or concerns you may have. Please feel free to reach out to us.— Atlantic Station (@AtlanticStation) December 14, 2018
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