by Arielle Robinson

“Georgia has a problem with police brutality,” Gerald Griggs, attorney for Vincent Truitt‘s family said a crowd of about 70 people gathered in Marietta Square on a Saturday afternoon last month.

The rally was held to mark the nearly one year anniversary of the murder of Vincent Truitt by Cobb County Police Officer Max Carnelian.

On July 13, 2020, 17-year-old Vincent Truitt was a passenger in a stolen car and was shot twice in the back while trying to escape.

According to police and supported by video footage, Truitt had a gun nearby when he was lying on the ground after the shot.

Police bodycam footage shows Carnelian also handcuffed Vincent Truitt while he was lying on the floor, bleeding to death and bleeding.

Truitt died of gunshot wounds at Grady Memorial Hospital the next day.

In February of that year, a grand jury made up of Cobb District Attorney Flynn Broady nothing done against carnelian and declared that his use of force was justified.

The families of Jimmy Atchison, Matthew “Zadok” Williams, Jayvis Benjamin, Jarvis Lykes and Vincent Truitt were in attendance Saturday demanding justice for their family members, all of whom were killed by police.

Atchison was killed by Atlanta Police in 2019, Zadok Williams was killed by DeKalb County Police this year, Benjamin by Avondale Estates Police in 2013, and Jarvis Lykes by Georgia State Trooper in Columbus in 2017.

Relatives of other victims killed by police said they attended Saturday’s demonstration out of solidarity with Vincent Truitt and his family.

The demonstration ended with rally visitors marching in the streets around Marietta Square, demanding justice for every person killed by the police.

Before the rally, Tammie Featherstone, Atchison’s aunt, said she cried the first time she heard about Vincent Truitt’s case.

“I was like, ‘Oh, here it is, another young black guy who was killed by the police,'” Featherstone said. “Shot in the back! If I shoot you in the back, I’ll go to jail because that’s one of the laws. “

Atchison’s father, Jimmy Hill, said he was always ready to fight for justice, but he was also very tired from fighting.

“I’m just so tired of looking at this mother’s face,” said Hill. “The emptiness and the pain, and in their eyes you can see the suffering and the struggle that continues to fight.”

Zadok Williams’ sister, Zeporah Williams, said she heard about the event through a Facebook group called Georgia Moms United. The group is led by mothers who have been subjected to police violence across the state.

Featherstone is one of the people who help run the group.

“This is a community that I didn’t know existed before,” said Zeporah Williams. “I would empathize to hear stories about George Floyd – anyone who gets national attention, but what is happening in our own community?”

During the demonstration, Griggs said that the Cobb Police’s bodycam and dashcam footage of Vincent Truitt’s murder show that Vincent Truitt was not aggressive towards the police.

“You don’t see him with a gun, you don’t see him doing anything with a gun other than running in the opposite direction from the police officer,” Griggs said.

Griggs also told the crowd about other pieces of police material.

“We have the bodycam video of what came [after the shooting]”Said Griggs. “Officials [were] repairing her hair and making certain comments about ‘Well you know this is going to be on the news so we have to look good for the news.’ ”

Griggs also said that a Voice recording from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation interview with Carnelian after the killing shows that Carnelian tells the GBI he was unsure whether he saw the muzzle of Vincent Truitt’s gun and unsure whether Vincent Truitt was pointing it at him.

The attorney said the family would go to the federal government to investigate Vincent Truitt’s case.

Griggs said she would request a meeting with US Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

“Let’s be very clear about where we are in Georgia,” Griggs said. “Georgia has a problem with police brutality. It didn’t start with Vincent, it didn’t end with Vincent. We are so grateful to have mothers from all over the state of Georgia standing with Vincent Demario Truitt’s family. “

Andre Truitt, Vincent Truitt’s father, distributes leaflets every day to raise awareness of his son’s case.

“At the end of the day we will see justice,” said Andre Truitt during the rally. “Max Karneol will pay for what he did to my son. Every time you shoot a 17 year old in the back, your life is not going to go well. “

Andre Truitt also thanked other families affected by police murders for their solidarity.

Vincent Truitt’s grandmother, Deborah Howard, said Vincent was their first grandchild.

“He was a remarkable kid,” said Howard. “He had dreams, he was passionate about what he was doing … Vincent had talent, he wrote music, he wrote poetry, he wrote raps. So what Cobb County took away from us is a life full of talent. “

Venethia Cook-Lewis, Vincent Truitt’s mother, noted that her birthday will never be the same as her son died the day before.

“He was a teenager. We all make mistakes, ”said Cook-Lewis. “Let him learn from his mistakes. Give him the chance to live – but no, you all want to kill our children. “

Families of other black men killed by law enforcement in Georgia also had an opportunity to speak at the protest.

Each family shared their son’s stories and declared their support for the Truitt family.

Like Max Karneol, the state trooper who killed Lykes was not brought up against him by a grand jury and is still working on his job.

Zadok Williams’ family told the crowd that he could have been saved if the police had provided medical assistance. They said the police made him bleed to death and die.

Jayvis Benjamin’s mother, Montye Benjamin, told everyone that a grand jury charged the officer who killed her unarmed son, but the former DeKalb District Attorney overturned the decision.

Featherstone said that Officer Sung Kim, who killed Atchison, injured several laws and protocols. She also said that her nephew posed no threat until he had to be shot in the face.

“We’re not just fighting for our children here,” said Hill. “We also fight for your children. Because as long as you are black, you have a target on your back. “

When Griggs spoke up, he criticized Cobb DA Flynn Broady, saying that he had broken his campaign promises to Vincent Truitt’s family.

One promise that Broady made, according to Griggs, is that he would release the footage of Vincent Truitt’s murder if the family were comfortable with it.

Broady did not release the tape until after the grand jury made their decision, despite numerous calls from the Truitt family, to release the footage.

Griggs also pointed out that the prosecutor’s office blocked the family from attending the press conference at which Broady announced the grand jury’s recommendation.

At this press conference, Broady announced that it would not take any further action against Carnelian.

On Saturday, Griggs said that while Cobb County is Democrat-run, it doesn’t feel that any progressive change has occurred.

Griggs, backed by the crowd, said they will vote out Broady when the time comes.

“I promise you will not be re-elected,” said Griggs.

The demonstration ended with demonstrators taking to the streets, marching and chanting several times with signs around the square. There was no visible police presence.

“We have to end the police brutality in our generation,” said Griggs. “We have to end voter suppression in our generation. We must end the evils of racism in our generation. Because I’ll be damned if my 13-year-old has to go through the same thing as her grandfather. “

Arielle Robinson is a student at Kennesaw State University. She is President of the University’s Society of Professional Journalists and Editor at KSU Sentinel. She loves music, reads poetry and non-fiction, and collects books and records.