ATLANTA — A Georgia grand jury has indicted a now-retired Atlanta police officer on murder charges after the officer shot and killed a man in 2019 who was hiding in a closet after running away from a fugitive task force.
Sung Kim was indicted for felony murder, involuntary manslaughter and other charges Friday in the death of Jimmy Atchison, said Jeff DiSantis, a spokesperson for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. A copy of the indictments was not immediately available.
Atchison’s case has been a top local example for those protesting police violence against Black people in recent years. His name was often chanted by Atlanta protesters during Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020.
Atchison’s family has repeatedly contended that officials were dragging their feet in presenting the case to a grand jury. Attorney Gerald Griggs said the family was withholding comment on Friday.
Atchison, 21, was killed on Jan. 22, 2019, after an FBI task force that included Kim tried to arrest him for an armed robbery warrant. Police said Atchison stole a woman’s purse and cell phone — a claim disputed by a witness produced by Atchison’s family.
Atchison ran away from officers through an apartment complex, entered a different apartment and hid in a closet, according to an earlier report from prosecutors. Kim, a longtime Atlanta officer, found Atchison in the closet after a foot chase and shot him.
Family members claimed Atchison raised his hands to surrender when he was shot in the face. Kim said Atchison made a threatening move and believed Atchison had a weapon. The man was not armed.
A report by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation determined Atchison was given conflicting commands, Atchison family attorney Tanya Miller has said. She said one task force member told Atchison to come out with his hands up, while another told him not to move.
Kim was not wearing a body camera because, at the time, FBI policy prohibited their use by agents and task force members.
Atchison’s family criticized the previous longtime district attorney, Paul Howard, as well as Willis, who defeated Howard in 2020, for their failure to indict Kim. The Fulton County Public Integrity Unit recommended that the Kim be charged, and Howard had said he was ready to present charges in 2020 until the COVID-19 pandemic shut down court proceedings.
Lawyers brought a wrongful death suit against the city of Atlanta in 2020 on behalf of Atchison’s two daughters, saying they would seek $20 million.
Willis pledged to resolve what she described as a backlog of 30 police use-of-force cases by the end of 2022. She has since indicted a number of current and former officers.