DeKalb County DA Withdraws from Atlanta Public Safety Training Center Cases

Sherry Boston is the District Attorney of DeKalb County. Dozens of criminal cases have been filed against people alleged to have engaged in protests, disruptions and violence related to the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center. District Attorney Sherry Boston doesn’t want to prosecute the cases. Boston announced her “prosecutorial philosophy” mandates that she withdraw from prosecuting “all current cases related to the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center in unincorporated DeKalb County.”

In a 30-second video, here, Boston is quoted as saying this “fundamental difference in prosecutorial philosophy” justifies her refusal to do her job. Boston seems to claim that the appearance of a conflict of interest is, at least, in part, her justification for her recusal from prosecution. A conflict of interest is different from a prosecutorial philosophy.

Boston has announced that she has made the decision to withdraw her office from the prosecution of Training Center cases. As reported, “According to a press release, Boston and her team have been involved in ongoing discussions with their law enforcement partners about evidence and charges in the cases for the people who have been arrested for domestic terrorism and other charges in connection to the proposed training center.” See links to ALL TRAINING CENTER STORIES.

Due to her “fundamental difference in prosecutorial philosophy,”the Georgia Attorney General’s Office will handle the prosecution of the pending cases. Boston claims that she and her “team” have worked “diligently to reach a consensus with the Attorney General’s Office on charging decisions in these cases.” Boston is claimed to have stated that: “At this point, I have decided it is best that we allow them to move forward with the charges they feel are warranted.”

The District Attorney’s press release states, however, “that the DeKalb County DA will handle any future arrests related to the training center like any other case in their jurisdiction.”

The issues appear to be complex without any consensus among opposing parties. The training center was approved by the Atlanta City Council in September 2021. Since that moment, opposition exploded. The allegations from each side contrast starkly. As reported, “City officials say the new 85-acre campus would replace inadequate current training facilities and would help address difficulties in hiring and retaining police officers.”

Opponents have been both local as well as drawn from several parts of the country. Opponents assert a “fear” that the Training Center “will lead to greater militarization of the police.” Opponents also claim that the Center’s “construction will exacerbate environmental damage.” A racial factor has also been infused into the opponents’ claims because the Training Center will be near a predominantly black neighborhood.

Reporting indicates that the opponents have “been camping at the site since at least last year.” Police allege that the opponents have “caused damage and attacked law enforcement officers and others.”

All of the protests and tensions are now seen through the lens of the killing by police officers in January of 26-year-old protester Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, known as Tortuguita. As reported, “The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has said officers fired in self-defense after Terán shot at them while they cleared protesters from the site.” This narrative conflicts with the position of the opponents, who point out that the “state troopers involved weren’t wearing body cameras.” This absence of substantiating evidence causes the opponents to “question the official narrative.”

At that time, as reported, Boston requested that an independent prosecutor handle the investigation into the death of Teran. Boston alleged “she did not want the appearance of a conflict of interest due to her office’s involvement in a multi-jurisdictional task force at the Atlanta Public Training Center.” Media reports allege that more than 40 protesters have been charged with domestic terrorism, “a weighty felony charge that carries a penalty of five to 35 years in prison.”

D & B Staff

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Episode 96