Parents of girl killed in Atlanta see hope in investigation

ATLANTA (AP) — The parents of an 8-year-old girl who was shot and killed near the site where Rayshard Brooks had been shot several weeks earlier said Tuesday they’re encouraged by the progress of the investigation after meeting with the district attorney whose office will prosecute the case.

Secoriea Turner was slain July 4, 2020, while riding in an SUV with her mother and her mother’s friend, near the Wendy’s restaurant where Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man, had been killed by a white police officer on June 12.

Her parents, Charmaine Turner and Secoriey Williamson, and their lawyers met Tuesday with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. The district attorney said last week that indictments in the case could come as early as this week.

“I’d like to say that we have faith in DA Willis and her team on getting us a step closer to the justice for Secoriea that we need,” Williamson said during a news conference after the meeting.

Two people have been arrested so far and charged in Secoriea’s killing, and authorities have said more arrests are possible.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced last week that Jerrion Amari McKinney, 23, of Loganville, was arrested on multiple charges, including murder and 12 gang-related offenses. No attorney who could comment on the charges was listed for him in online court records.

Willis said during a news conference last week that she had asked the GBI several months ago to join the investigation and specifically to look into the possibility of gang involvement.

Julian Conley, 20, was arrested last year and charged with felony murder and aggravated assault in the shooting. Conley’s attorney has said his client was peacefully protesting and witnessed the shooting but did not open fire himself.

Shean Williams, a lawyer for Secoriea’s parents, said Tuesday that they were impressed with Willis and her staff and the progress they’ve made in the investigation.

“We left the meeting with a sense that DA Willis was taking this very seriously, that it was a priority for her office, that it was a priority to get justice for this family, for this little girl,” Williams said.

Secoriea’s parents filed a lawsuit in June against the city and city officials. It says city leaders showed negligence in failing to remove armed vigilantes who gathered at the site along with peaceful protesters, which created a dangerous situation that led to the girl’s death.

Williams said they believe the criminal case bolsters the claims in the lawsuit. The family’s lawyer also said the meeting they had with prosecutors confirmed for them that “the failures of the city of Atlanta, city of Atlanta officials and the police department is a major reason why this family lost their beautiful daughter.”

The fast food restaurant was set on fire the day after Brooks’ killing, and people protesting police brutality camped out at the site during the weeks that followed. Makeshift barricades had been set up in the area, and armed men had been blocking roads and turning some drivers away. As the driver of the SUV Secoriea was riding in approached the barricade, armed people began walking toward the vehicle and signaling the driver couldn’t pass and one or more people shot into the vehicle, the lawsuit says.

The city stopped tolerating protesters occupying the Wendy’s site after Secoriea’s killing, and the charred shell of the restaurant was demolished on July 14, 2020.