ATLANTA - The parents of Secoriea Turner, the 8-year-old girl who was shot and killed in Atlanta last July at the Wendy's where Rayshard Brooks was killed weeks earlier, have filed a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta over her death.
Attorneys representing the family had previously announced their intent to file a lawsuit and Monday they reported that they have filed the suit against the city of Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta police chief Rodney Bryant, Atlanta city councilmember Joyce Sheperd and Wendy's International.
According to the attorneys, the complaint alleges numerous failings on the part of the city, including that Atlanta officials were negligent in their duties by not removing armed protesters who had taken over the Wendy's where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed three weeks earlier.
In an announcement last year, attorneys said they would be seeking $12 million in damages from the city for the death of Secoriea Turner as well as an additional $4 million for property damage and injuries sustained by Turner's mother and her mother's boyfriend.
According to police, Turner was riding in a Jeep with her mother and an adult friend when they turned off the Downtown Connector onto University Avenue slightly before 10 p.m. Protestors had recently erected illegal barricades, encircling the nearby Wendy's, authorities reported.
Friends and family members of Secoriea Turner release balloons on what would have been her 9th birthday on Nov. 24, 2020. (FOX 5)
When the driver attempted to enter a liquor store parking lot on the 1200 block of Pryor Road, police say he was confronted by a group of armed individuals who had blocked the entrance. Authorities said at least two men fired multiple times at the vehicle, hitting Turner.
After the shooting, Turner's family drove straight to Atlanta Medical Center, where they met police officers. The young girl died after being treated for her injuries.
Secoria's parents say life has been unbearable without their shining star.
"None of what we are doing will bring our baby back. We shouldn't be here. We deserve justice" Secoria's mother Charmaine Turner said
Authorities were notified of the resurrected blockages less than an hour before the shooting. The Atlanta Police Department said they had planned on checking out the area but were swamped with other pressing 911 calls.
Julian Conley (Fulton County Sheriff's Office)
The suspect in the shooting, 19-year-old Julian Conley, is facing a felony murder charge.
Conley, who was then 19-years-old, told FOX 5 that he was at the scene, witnessed the shooting, and even had a gun, but he emphasized he did not fire his weapon.
"Nobody wanted that to happen," Conley said in court before he was denied bond. "It was a tragedy that it did happen."
While police say numerous people fired shots into the car, only Conley has been charged.
Lawyers representing Turner's family claim actions of Atlanta officials, or the lack thereof, allowed armed civilians to commandeer a public street without pushback from law enforcement.
Attorney Mawuli Davis, part of the legal team representing Turner's family, said City of Atlanta officials were negligent in maintaining peace near the Wendy's off of University Avenue. He said the blockade prevented Turner's family from safely returning home.
Attorney Shean Williams said Wendy's corporation has a responsibility to take it upon itself or work with the city to ensure measures were taken to secure public safety. He claims the owner abandoned the property.
"It’s in part of their abandonment of their legal responsibilities that we are here today," Williams said.
The legal team said they have had little to no response from Atlanta up to Monday morning.
After the press conference on Monday afternoon, District 12 Councilmember Joyce Sheperd released a response:
"It’s been nearly a year since the loss of Secoriea Turner. The pain still resonates with me, within the community and the city at large. My heart is with the family and those who have been impacted by this loss. In the wake of the tragedy, I am aware of the lawsuit that has been filed on behalf of the family. I have been in contact with our law department and will not be making any official statements related to the lawsuit."
The mayor's office said it would not comment on the civil suit, beyond condemning the incident as a tragedy:
"The murder of Secoriea Turner, as a result of senseless gun violence, is a tragedy that no family should have to endure. Due to the anticipated litigation, the City will offer no further comment, at this time."
The legal team filing the suit also accused the city of having a hypocritical approach when it is time to settle civil lawsuits, especially when it involves Black lives.
"This city claims to be the Beacon of civil rights, home to Dr. King and John Lewis, but when it is time to acknowledge that Black lives matter, Atlanta does not get it done like other cities such as Minneapolis and Louisville," Williams said.
The Turner legal team said they are aware the city of Atlanta does not have liability insurance and any settlement or damages paid would come from the city's budget.
Davis promised to file lawsuits throughout June to hold Atlanta officials accountable in separate incidents. Davis is also representing the family of Matthew Zadok Williams, who was killed in an officer-involved shooting during the execution of a no-knock warrant in DeKalb County.
"June will be the month of reckoning in this city," Davis said
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