Almost four months after a botched police raid left a homeowner and a police officer with gunshot wounds — and the homeowner’s dog dead at the hands of the police — the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office hasn’t released any new information on the investigation.
The case drew widespread condemnation and headlines when DeKalb County sheriff’s deputies walked into the wrong house, guns drawn, after getting a 911 call about a burglary on Aug. 31.
Inside, 36-year-old homeowner Chris McKinley was watching a movie with his wife, Leah, and 1-year-old son when police entered through an unlocked back door, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Police claim they announced themselves, but in interviews afterward, McKinley said the deputies did not give any warning. When McKinley heard his dog barking, he got up to see what was happening and walked to the rear of the house, where police shot him and his dog, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“I hear Leah screaming, I see Chris walking out, ‘They just shot me, they just shot me, and they killed my dog,’” Tama Colson, a neighbor who was returning home from an evening walk when she stumbled into the chaotic scene, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
For their part, police blamed the original 911 caller and the dispatcher for the incident.
“Are we perfect?” DeKalb Director of Public Safety Cedric Alexander asked, reports the Journal-Constitution. “Absolutely not. But when we find a mistake, we own it. We own the fact that we were at the wrong house. We didn’t hide it. We didn’t mismanage it. We were at the wrong location based on information that was given to us.”
In the initial police version of events, McKinley “burst out of a closed door with a pit bull that charged at the officers,” according to a police report cited by WSB-TV.
McKinley’s attorney, Jeff Brickman, flatly denied the police report, which was written in language that seemed to absolve the deputies from any wrongdoing. The dog was a boxer, Brickman told WSB-TV.
“Chris McKinley didn’t burst out of any closed door,” Brickman said. “He doesn’t have a pit bull.”
McKinley was shot once in the leg, while Officer Travis Jones was shot in the hip.
Since the incident at the end of August, Jones and his two fellow officers — Timothy Hardin and Quhanna Lloyd — have been on paid administrative leave.
Authorities urged calm in interviews with Atlanta-area media in September and October, asking the public to withhold judgment until the investigation is complete, but DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James has not issued any new information on the case, as of Dec. 14, nor has he given any indication when the investigation will be completed.
Sources: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (2) (3), WSB-TV / Photo credit: Atlanta Journal-Constitution