ATLANTA (CBS46) – The grieving parents of Secoriea Turner are taking their fight for justice to court. Attorneys for the parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant, City Councilwoman Joyce Shepherd and Wendy’s for the shooting of the 8-year-old girl.
“This is a lawsuit that is based on a failure of city government at the highest levels: the mayor, the police chief, and the city council member,” said Starks, a senior attorney with The Cochran Firm. “This lawsuit is based on a failure of city officials to provide even the most basic public safety and public protection,” Starks added Monday.
Turner and her family were riding by the Wendy’s on July 4th last year on their way home. The restaurant had been taken over in part by a vigilante group during protests over the killing of Rayshard Brooks at the restaurant.
As the family rode drove by, one armed man shot into their car, killing Secoriea. Attorneys with The Cochran Firm and The Davis Bozeman Law Firm say city leaders were negligent in allowing the armed group to commandeer University Avenue and the area surrounding the Wendy’s.
“My daughter is supposed to be here with us. We don’t supposed to be here,” said Security Williamson, Secoriea’s father. “in a million years we don’t expect to be here.”
The lawsuit claims “Mayor Bottoms Council member Sheperd, Interim Chief Bryant, along with city officials allowed armed and violent individuals to encamp on and take control of a major city street by erecting barriers in the middle of University Avenue and deciding who would be allowed to pass”
The filing says the Atlanta city leaders, “ignored and allowed lawlessness, violence, and vigilantism to disrupt the orderly and peaceful flow of traffic near the Wendy’s which caused the shooting and killing of Secoriea Turner.”
“We believe the evidence shows that the mayor gave specific direction to the police chief and to the police department to stand down. So that is a dereliction of duty,” Starks said.
The attorneys presented an internal Atlanta police memo dated March 31, 2020 in which officers were directed “not to be overly proactive in any form” as the department tried to keep officers “safe and healthy.”
Starks cited new reports that Councilwoman Shepherd asked city leaders to let her talk to the group at the Wendy’s first, and therefore plans to demolish the site were postponed.
“It wasn’t until after Secoriea’s tragic death that the city finally did what they should have done weeks before. They demolished the Wendy’s,” Starks said.
“All parties should be held accountable not just the individuals they have in custody,” said Mawuli Davis, a partner with the Davis Bozeman Law Firm.
The attorneys are asking for a jury to determine a compensation amount, but Secoriea’s parents say justice and accountability, not money, is their goal.
“None of what we are doing will every bring our baby back. Her life is priceless,” said Charmaine Turner, Secoriea’s mother. “We’re forced to live through this day by day,” she added stating her family deserves justice and someone needs to be held accountable.