The Cochran Firm Atlanta announced Wednesday that it will represent Marquez Redden, a 16-year-old Arican-American boy who they say was wrongfully shot by DeKalb County Police on September 3.
The incident happened while DeKalb County Police were investigating a burglary in Decatur. The law firm asserts that officers wrongly assumed Redden was a suspect and began chasing him, then shot him in the arm after he raised his hand in compliance with police orders to surrender.
Redden had skipped school, his father acknowledged in an earlier interview, but he said the boy didn't realize there had been a burglary in the area or that police were looking for the suspects. A K-9 unit tracked the boy's scent to a shed and when an officer came in contact with the teenager, he shot and hit him in the arm.
DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexander said that because Redden ran when he saw the officers, they assumed he was one of their suspects. When the officer opened the shed, Redden's quick movements caught him off guard.
"It startled the officer," Alexander told CBS Atlanta. "[The officer] mentioned, 'I was startled by it,' and there was an unintentional discharge."
At a news conference on Sept. 4, Alexander added that the unintentional discharge could have been avoided if the teen had initially heeded police orders.
"Officers see him and he's running and they pursued," Alexander said. "If he had stopped right there, that would have been the end of it."
Redden's father, though, was unsatisfied with that explanation.
"He has a Taser," the boy's father said of the officer. "He had a dog in his hand, so there are other forces that you could use instead of accidentally discharging your gun, if that's what you say happened."
The officer is on paid administrative leave while the department investigates the shooting, according to a department spokesperson.
Redden is still recovering at Grady Memorial Hospital where Cochran Firm communications director Tiffany Cochran Edwards says the teenager has undergone several surgeries. The Cochran Firm was retained by Redden's legal guardian, his great aunt Geraldine Lloyd, to investigate the incident and determine the appropriate legal action on behalf of Marquez.
"We were hired to see what, if anything, needs to take place," Cochran Edwards told the Daily World. "The first order of business is to investigate what happened, because there's really no reason why a trained officer should accidentally shoot a 16 year old, even if he thought he was a suspect."
Cochran Edwards added that the firm has not yet determined whether or not it will pursue legal action against the police department or the officer involved.
Phone calls to Alexander and the Dekalb County Police Department were not immediately returned.