The five officer involved in the shooting death of 21-year-old Peachynder William Demarco at a Georgia music festival have been indicted on murder charges by a Gwinnett County grand jury.
The shooting happened in August, in a festival entrance’s parking lot after officers responding to a carjacking suspect attempted to subdue Demarco while he held a piece of metal and a rock, resulting in the shooting.
The identity of the officers — two of whom have been on administrative leave since the incident occurred — has not been released by Gwinnett County officials, nor has the name of the sixth officer who was with them but is not subject to an indictment.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dontrell Stephens, a 21-year-old man who was friends with Demarco, is currently facing drug charges, including possession of cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy. Stephens allegedly spoke with the officers when they first came to town and, in an initial statement, described Demarco as his friend. Stephens later released an affidavit through his attorney describing Demarco as a “child molester” and said he felt the officers should have killed him.
Lawyers for the teen’s mother have referred to his death as a homicide and have said that the officers’ presence at the 2017 Peachfest festival was necessary because of the existence of potential crime threats. The officers, on the other hand, said they felt threatened and that Demarco was in his car. Demarco had a gun and a knife with him during the confrontation.
But at least one of the officers found in the indictment, Lrton Patterson, has already responded to allegations that Demarco was resisting arrest, explaining he received ground updates and notes from another officer about the situation. He has not been identified as the officer who fired the fatal shot at Demarco.
Demarco’s death sparked outrage among many protesters and inspired a coalition to enact the Demarco Law in November, which aims to give police a definition of when they are allowed to use deadly force.
“Demarco was not a criminal,” said a statement issued by a coalition of attorneys who drafted the bill. “Fatal police shootings are a source of violence and despair on a daily basis, and this tragedy is a perfect example of that. The Demarco family, the Peachfest crowd, and everyone who lives in the Peach Belt deserve better.”
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is still investigating Demarco’s death.
Read the full story on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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