There's no doubt about it.
I'm setting aside time away from Championship Week to talk about the Atlanta court murders on Friday.
Here's the story
...an accused rapist, Brian Nichols, was being guarded by a female deputy while he was changing from his jail jumpsuit to casual attire for his trial hearing, in which he was facing life in prison if convicted. He had beaten her so badly that, according to emergency officials, they couldn't tell if she was beaten or shot. The female deputy was 51 years old and only five feet tall. That's it. He took her gun, and went straight for Judge Rowland Barnes's chambers, which is in the next building, through the skywalk.
At Barnes's chambers, Nichols demands to know where he is. An assistant of Barnes hits the emergency button, and when a deputy responds he knocks the deputy out and takes his gun, which makes two guns he's taken from two different deputies. Now he goes into the Barnes's courtroom, shot and killed Barnes, killed the court reporter, Julie Brandau, and runs out of the courtroom.
Nichols is able to run down eight flights of stairs with deputies chasing him and through an emergency exit door. He runs across MLK Boulevard and into the Underground Atlanta parking garage. In there, he kills a deputy and carjacks a SUV. He gets out of the garage, gets on Peachtree Street, jacks a tow truck at gunpoint, goes down a one-way street. He gets out of the tow truck at another parking garage, jacks another car that belonged to a female AJC computer programmer, and gets out. He drives just about a block or two and he sees another guy parking his car in a garage. He beats him up (it was AJC writer Don O'Briant, who tried to play cowboy and is lucky he isn't dead too) and takes his car, and that's the last anyone saw of him. Oh; and they found the car in the same garage he carjacked O'Briant at later that night.
Georgia Governor Sonny "Ralphus" Perdue said, "It is a sad day for our country." Our country? Don't put the country into this; it's a sad day for YOUR STATE. Frankly, I'm surprised this hasn't happened several times over.
Atlanta PD and Fulton County's Sheriff Department is so incompetent that this was bound to happen. How in the world do you have a 51 year old grandma that's only five foot nothing standing guard over a former football player that weighed approx 210 pounds, and with no backup. I guarantee you that happens quite often.
You would have thought as busy as that courthouse is (and it is quite busy) and the number of sheriff deputies there had to be in those buildings they would have been able to capture him in the building. Not only was he able to damn near kill the guard, but was able to go into the next building, go into Judge Barnes's chambers and disarm another deputy, go into the courtroom and shoot that up before anyone realized what was going on. Even then he still had enough of a head start that he was able to run down 8 flights to get out of the courthouse?
I'm going to say something real insensitive here: I'd bet you this wouldn't happen in a rural area. He might have gotten out of the courthouse, but he would have been found by now, probably in a car chase. This wouldn't have happened in New York, because for one thing I'd imagine they'd know better than to have such loose security for someone accused of a violent crime. Even if they did, I'd bet he couldn't get out of that building. No, you see, Atlanta presented all the tools necessary to allow this to happen; weak security, incompetent justice system, incompetent PD and Sheriff's Department, and just enough people downtown in order to the precise amount of mass confusion and panic so he could slip right out of the city and out of sight.
Not only was this guy able to get the best of Atlanta and Fulton County's finest, but he left a pretty big FUCK YOU to go along with it...taking the time to go kill the judge presiding over his case, instead of simply leaving the courthouse after beating up the guard, and after they had been looking for him all day, left the car he jacked from O'Briant right in the same spot he got it. None of these Deputy Dog-like cops can tell you how long the car has been there. For all they know, he could have brought it back as soon as the EMT's left from picking up O'Briant.
So the way I see it, as soon as they find this guy - if they ever do - the following people need to step down:
- Fulton County Sheriff Myron Freeman
- Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard
- Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington
Add to that any immediate supervisors in charge of assigning inmate security. People have been complaining about security measures at the courthouse
and at Fulton County Jail for years. Freeman should have addressed that immediately when he was elected last year. Obviously, no such luck. Howard has been Fulton's DA for a number of years, including running the show at the horribly botched Ray Lewis trial after the Super Bowl in 2000. I would have thought the voters would have kicked him out on his ear then. He never bothered to speak up or do anything about security either. And any time a fugitive is able to move from the courthouse to Peachtree Street to Marietta Street without one cop actually finding him in the middle of the day, the blame lies upon Atlanta PD. As many cops as I've seen day after day downtown farting around and playing grabass you would have thought they would have caught a guy in broad daylight who did three carjackings in an hour's time.
Of course, this won't happen, because the media wouldn't dare call for the heads of public officials in Atlanta short of murder, because they all happen to be black. Besides, incompetence is a staple of Atlanta's public infrastructure. I wouldn't be surprised if this happened again.