A Fulton County judge decided Thursday that a former police officer will not be granted immunity after he shot and killed a teenager who was stealing his unmarked patrol car.
Now, the case goes to a Fulton County jury.
Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes was at the courthouse to speak to the teen’s parents after the hearing.
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The teen’s parents said the judge’s decision was a victory for them, one they’ve been waiting five years to receive.
Over the years, they’ve wanted to learn if the former detective who killed their son would go to trial or not.
Now a jury will decide if he’s guilty of felony murder.
“It’s just the beginning so, I’m gonna pray. I’m gonna pray that we get the justice we need,” Gaysha Glover, the victim’s mother told Channel 2 Action News.
Glover’s emotions were held back during the hearing on Thursday morning, but she couldn’t hold them in anymore while speaking to Fernandes outside the courtroom.
“It’s hard for me, I don’t know, it’s emotionally hard for me,” Glover said.
On Oct. 28, 2019, Glover’s son D’Ettrick Griffin had just turned 18. He was at the same gas station in Southwest Atlanta as a then-Atlanta Police Department detective, Oliver Simmonds, who was off duty at the time. According to investigators, Griffin tried to steal the detective’s unmarked patrol car.
Simmonds testified at the hearing Thursday, where a judge had to choose whether or not to grant him immunity.
He admitted in court that his life was not in danger when Griffin tried to steal the car, but Simmonds then chased the car and grabbed the steering wheel.
“My jacket was stuck in the car at that time, I felt my life was endangered or I’m gonna get seriously injured, that’s when I pulled my gun and I fired,” Simmonds said in court.
Griffin died, and the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office charged Simmonds with felony murder, aggravated assault, and two counts of violating his oath of office.
Prosecutors said Thursday that Simmonds told three different versions of what happened that day. Until the hearing Thursday, Simmonds had not even mentioned his jacket being caught in the door, not mentioning it until about five years after the shooting, according to prosecutors.
Griffin’s father, Courtney, told Channel 2 Action News that he was furious during the entire hearing.
“He just tried to cover himself, yes he did, my son didn’t have a gun,” Mr. Griffin said.
Judge Eric Dunaway said that the different versions of the story had played a part in his decision to deny Simmonds’ request for immunity.
Glover says she doesn’t believe her son was right to steal a car, but she doesn’t believe he deserved to die for it.
“I’d rather have been talking to him behind a glass than have to visit him at a gravesite,” Glover said.
No trial date has been set for the case yet, but it’s looking like it’ll begin in late spring or early summer.
Griffin’s parents said they’ll be in court for the whole trial, even though it’s going to make them relive this all over again.
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