About 75 demonstrators rallied at Marietta Square Saturday afternoon, demanding justice for 17-year-old Vincent Truitt, a Black teenager who was killed by Cobb County Police July 14, 2020.
Truitt was allegedly shot twice in the back by an unidentified police officer on July 13, 2020, as he ran away from the officer near Six Flags. Truitt died from his injuries the next day.
The Cobb County Police Department is refusing to release any public information on the officer who killed Truitt but protestors say the officer is still employed.
At the rally, protestors said that there is dashcam footage of the officer killing Truitt and not helping Truitt with CPR after shooting him. Only Truitt’s family and attorney, District Attorney Joyette Holmes and her office and law enforcement officials have been shown this footage.
Truitt’s family along with supporters are calling on Cobb Police Chief Tim Cox to release the footage to the public.
Saturday’s protest was held by Truitt’s family, friends, teachers, advisors and other school administration from Truitt’s charter school.
At Saturday’s protest, people held signs reading “release the tapes,” “justice for Vincent Truitt,” “Cobb County police kills kids,” and more.
Rally-goers chanted “Vincent Truitt” and “two shots to the back, you got to justify that,” among other chants.
Attorney for Truitt’s family, Gerald Griggs, said that Truitt’s family still has not received sufficient answers from Cobb County in the approximately four months since Truitt was killed by Cobb County police.
“For far too long in Cobb County, Black lives have not mattered,” Griggs said. “So today, on this square, we’re sending a message. This is a message to all of the residents of Cobb County. It’s time for y’all to realize that your Brown and Black brothers and sisters matter too. …We’re sending a message to Tim Cox — release the tapes.”
One of the assistant principals of KIPP Atlanta Collegiate, Authur Washington, said that Truitt’s family has been asking for the video in a calm fashion and the Cobb Board of Commissioners want the family to be patient but are being hypocritical.
“They’re not giving us what they want us to give them,” Washington said. “They want us to give an unidentified person just cause, but it was a shame that Vincent didn’t make it home.”
Washington said the purpose of the rally was to paint a bigger picture of Truitt’s life, as the picture CCPD has put out is inadequate for a boy who was full of life and love.
Classmates described Truitt as a teen who loved to play basketball and emphasized they wanted Truitt’s case to be recognized nationally.
Principal for KAC Jondré Pryor said that upon initially meeting Truitt, Truitt questioned who Pryor was. As time went by, Truitt smiled and hugged Pryor.
“I am sick and tired of the adultification of our Black and Brown babies,” Pryor said. “Where media makes them out to be grown women and grown men. Vince was a kid, he was a teenager … and he did those things that teenagers … do. But in the media, they portray him as this older person, this man, who was threatening the Cobb County officer. I’m just sick of this adultification. Vincent was a wonderful child, he had passion, he had energy. We have to make sure we find justice for this warrior.”
Truitt’s parents also spoke at Saturday’s rally.
Truitt’s father, Andre Truitt, said that he saw the video of his son being shot twice in the back by Cobb County police while running away.
“In what world is that humane?” Andre Truitt asked.
Venethia Cook-Lewis, Vincent Truitt’s mother, tearfully said she never imagined she would be in this situation.
“It’s not fair we have to go through this pain while [the officer] lives his life,” Cook-Lewis said. “He should not be working on this force.”
Cook-Lewis said that in the video of her son’s murder the officer who killed Truitt was asked to help with CPR but instead just stood over Truitt, not offering any help to the victim.
“I did have Vince at a young age,” Cook-Lewis said. “We grew together and we learned together. He was almost at the age where I could be more of a friend than a mom. He was just starting to live his life.”
Cook-Lewis said Truitt would never hurt anyone, let alone a police officer, and to live without her son hurts terribly.
“Tim Cox, it’s time for you to resign,” Cook-Lewis said. “This officer should not be working after shooting a kid in the back. Not once, but twice. Justice for Vince.”
Toward the end of the rally, Griggs returned to speak to the demonstrators.
Griggs said the family of Ahmaud Arbery send their condolences to Truitt’s family and friends.
Griggs also described what he saw in the tape of Truitt’s killing.
Griggs said Truitt was a passenger in the vehicle he was accused of stealing and CCPD chased the vehicle down. The police eventually hit the car to slow it down.
The car stopped but then started again and drove further near a warehouse. The driver of the car exited the vehicle, dashcam footage showed.
Griggs said the police officer got out of his vehicle and switched to his body camera. Truitt eventually crawled from the passenger seat into the driver’s seat and exited the vehicle.
“When Vincent exited the vehicle he turned … and took three steps,” Griggs said. “At no point did Vincent Demario Truitt ever turn towards that officer. At no point do you see a weapon in [Truitt’s] hands as he exits the vehicle. And then you hear two shots, ‘pop pop,’ down goes Vincent Demario Truitt.”
Griggs directed his question to Cox, saying the police chief lied to the media. Griggs asked at what point did Truitt pull out a gun at the officer because Cox told that to the news.
“At what point did [Truitt] fire a weapon at the officer, because you said that to the news?” Griggs said. “ … you then switched up and said he brandished a weapon. Now Georgia law does not define brandishing, it’s not against the law to brandish a weapon.”
Griggs said one can only point a pistol at someone or commit aggravated assault.
“So Tim Cox, you lied a third time,” Griggs said.
CCPD lied again when they released another statement saying Truitt exited the car with a gun in his hand, Griggs said.
“Now Tim Cox, we’ve seen the tape,” Griggs said. “If you want to be honest with the people, release the tape.”
Griggs said Holmes said, “you cannot see a gun in Vincent’s hand.” Griggs said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds said the same thing as the DA.
“I’ll give you [Cox] one more chance to resign … because in Georgia it is against the law to use deadly force when no deadly force has been used against you or threatened you,” Griggs said. “That’s the law.”
“But for the person who told the media four different times four different stories,” Griggs said. “I don’t know if you know how to read the law.”
Griggs led crowd chants of “lock him up,” directed at the unidentified officer who killed Truitt.
Griggs said supporters of Truitt must come out to meetings and hearings to keep applying pressure on public officials to get justice for Truitt.
Griggs also mentioned that the DA-elect, Flynn Broady, met with Griggs last week and said he will convene and present Truitt’s case to a grand jury.
“We’re going to find out who that officer is, we’re going to put him on full display,” Griggs said. “We’re going to bring him down to the courthouse square, we’re going to convene a grand jury, we’re going to indict him for murder. Then we’re going to show up at his arraignment, show up at his bond hearing, look his lawyers in the eyes and tell them, ‘y’all are going to lose this case’ … and then we’re going to send that cop to prison for life.”
The rally ended with Tawheedah Abdullah reading the following reflection that Truitt wrote when he was in the 9th grade.
My first semester was the worst. I failed all of my classes and I got in a lot of trouble. I was unable to play basketball due to my actions.
Some of the classes last semester included algebra, literature, science and math. Out of all the subjects, science was my favorite, math being my worst.
I also took junior ROTC which is an unnecessary class students must take. I enjoyed my teachers even though I gave them a rough time in class. One experience in school … was when I failed all my classes and wasn’t able to play basketball.
The other one was a test that I was really nervous about but I did my best and got a good grade on the assessment. I had a lot more but those were the main two. Not being able to do the thing I loved most really made me realize that I have to do better this semester.
At the end of last semester, I was suspended for being disrespectful which really made me feel like I was going down the wrong path.
My mom was very disappointed in me and that made me feel even worse. I learned that when talking to adults I have to remain respectful at all times.
Another time I was sent to ISS for not wearing a uniform to school. I was a little angry but at the end of the day, I realized that there are rules in life, not just school, that I have to follow.
If I could go back in time, I’d tell myself to do the right thing and to do my work. Also, I would tell myself to try harder and to pass my classes. I feel like if I would’ve tried harder I could’ve done a lot better than what I did.
Therefore, I will change. My high school experience so far was rough but it will change this semester. I will do my part and I will do my work. I will not let anything or anyone get me off track this semester because I really want better for myself. I’m going to try my best to stay out of trouble and be the best scholar I can be.
— Vincent Truitt
Arielle Robinson is an undergrad at Kennesaw State University. She is the president of the university’s Society of Professional Journalists and an editor at the KSU Sentinel. She enjoys music, reading poetry and non-fiction books and collecting books and records.