Parents of 8-year-old girl killed during Rayshard Brooks protests sue Atlanta leaders, Wendy’s

Parents of 8-year-old girl killed during Rayshard Brooks protests sue Atlanta leaders, Wendy’s

June 8, 2021

The family of an 8-year-old girl who was killed during racial justice protests in Atlanta last year is suing the city, the mayor and police chief claiming city leadership permitted “lawlessness, violence and vigilantism” that resulted in the child’s death.

Secoriea Turner was killed July 4, 2020 while in an SUV with her mother and another adult near the Wendy’s restaurant where Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man, had been shot by a white police officer. The restaurant was set on fire after Brooks was killed on June 12 and protesters camped out at the site for several weeks afterward. Armed men sometimes blocked the road and turned drivers away.

On Independence Day, the SUV approached a makeshift barricade at the site and armed suspects shot into the vehicle, according to the lawsuit.

“Secoriea should be here. None of what we’re doing will ever bring our baby back. Her life is priceless,” Turner said during a news conference Monday. “We deserve justice. Someone needs to be held accountable.”

Police have said several people were involved in the shooting, but only Julian Conley, 20, has been charged with felony murder and aggravated assault after he turned himself in. His attorney said at the time that Conley was armed and protesting peacefully and witnessed the shooting but did not open fire.

After Secoriea’s death, the burned-out shell of the Wendy’s was demolished. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency and authorized the deployment of up to 1,000 National Guard troops after the fatal shooting.

Attorney Mawuli Davis, center, stands with his clients, Charmaine Turner, right, and Secoriey Williamson, parents of Secoriea Turner, as they speak during a press conference to announce a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta and others for a series of actions that resulted in the death of their 8-year-old daughter, Monday, June 7, 2021. (Photo: Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

From 2020: An 8-year-old was fatally shot in Atlanta near Wendy’s restaurant where Rayshard Brooks was killed, police say

City leaders were negligent and failed to remove armed vigilantes who gathered alongside peaceful protesters, according to the lawsuit filed Monday by Charmaine Turner and Secoriey Williamson.City leaders were aware of the dangerous situation and despite two previous shootings in the area, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms allowed City Council member Joyce Sheperd, who is also named in the suit, to continue to negotiate with protesters, according to the lawsuit.

The suit also names Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant. According to a June 17 police department email quoted in the lawsuit, officers had been told to respond to victims of violence but “not be overly proactive in any shape, form or fashion.”

The city’s failure to provide basic public safety and protection “directly and proximately led to Secoriea’s death, which was foreseeable and avoidable.”

Wendy’s International and the company that owns the property where the Wendy’s was located are also named in the suit for failing to provide safety and security on the property, the lawsuit says.

“We’re demanding that they take responsibility,” family attorney Shean D. Williams said. “We’re here to say on behalf of this family ‘enough is enough.'”

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and asks for the amount of monetary damages to be determined by the jury.

A spokesperson from the city said Secoriea’s death was the result of “senseless gun violence” but declined to comment further due to the lawsuit. The Atlanta Police Department said it does not comment on pending litigation. Wendy’s International did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sheperd said in a statement the pain of Secoriea’s death “still resonates with me, within the community and city at large.”

“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.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

Follow N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg

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