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Gwinnett DA: no indictment in police killing of teen

By Kalin Thomas Contributing Writer | 2/15/2013, noon
Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter has decided not to indict the Gwinnett County police officers involved in the Dec. ...
Anita Harris says she will continue to seek justice for her grandson Dawntree Williams who was shot to death by a Gwinnett County police officer. (Photo by Vincent Christie).

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter has decided not to indict the Gwinnett County police officers involved in the Dec. 19, 2011 shooting death of 15 year-old Dawntree Williams, according to his family.

The family, attorneys and supporters met with Porter at his office on Feb. 8.

The sound of frustration and pain was in Dr. Anita Harris’ voice as she reflected on the meeting regarding her grandson’s death.

“They took a whole year just to say the police didn’t do anything wrong,” lamented Harris.

She continued, “Mr. Porter was very callous! He said, ‘What do you want us to do? You want us to send it to the GBI, the FBI, the Supreme Court? It won’t matter because my ruling isn’t going to change.’”

Debbie Storm, a family supporter and member of Occupy Gwinnett was at the meeting. “During a prior visit with the DA he said it was important to get ballistic tests done for the investigation. But at this last meeting, he changed completely and said it wasn’t important and made his decision without it,” Storm said.

“I think he doesn’t want Gwinnett County to look bad and is afraid of a lawsuit,” she added.

Three months ago, the family and supporters were hoping for a better response from Porter as they held a candlelight vigil for Williams in the Gwinnett County Justice Center parking lot, on the one year anniversary of his death.

Police said Williams, a mental health patient, was shot and killed while threatening officers with a machete on the front porch of his grandmother’s home.

And though family and supporters say there were inconsistencies at the crime scene, charges were never filed.

“By the time Dawntree was walking toward police, he didn’t even have the machete in his hand,” said Storm.

Harris added, “The police took the machete off the porch where he dropped it and put it beside his dead body in the driveway.”

“The arrogance of the DA in lieu of the fact that the boy is dead, and the manner in which he spoke to us and Dr. Harris was very distasteful,” added Marcus Coleman, president of the National Action Network (NAN) and a family supporter.

Coleman said he will wait to see what the family attorney finds before moving forward.

Attorney Brian Spears has made a request to get the files of the case with all of the materials Porter used for his investigation.

“We expect to have the file within a few weeks. We’ll review it as thoroughly as we can and we’re hoping to make a decision about whether we can proceed with the lawsuit,” said Spears, who was in the meeting with Porter.

He added, “We’re certain that Dawntree’s death never should have happened, so we’re eager to come to some resolution.”

According to assistant district attorney, Dan Mayfield, Porter was expected to make an official announcement on Feb. 14 after our publication deadline.

Williams is just one of 12 black male teens and men killed by police or security guards in metro Atlanta in the past 16 months. No charges were filed against any of the law enforcement officers.