Officer Tommy Atzert was cleared of charges in the death of Maurice Hampton by a grand jury in Fulton County on Friday.
For the past four years, Atlanta police officer Tommy Atzert didn’t know if he’d be considered a cop or a criminal. At around 2pm Friday afternoon, Atzert was cleared of charges that some say never should’ve been filed to begin with.
When Tommy Atzert joined the Atlanta Police Department in 2007, he never thought he’d end up killing someone. But a few years later, on June 30th, 2011, he shot 37 year old Maurice Hampton dead after the two scuffled. The incident began when Atzert pulled Hampton over for running a stop sign. Hampton was a parolee and didn’t have a valid driver’s license at the time. When Hampton stopped his car he got out and ran off. Atzert says when he caught up with Hampton, the suspect grabbed his 'asp baton' and hit him with it, that's when Atzert fired his weapon, striking Hampton in the back.
Hampton’s family sued the City of Atlanta for wrongful death but a Judge ruled in the city’s favor. However, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, Jr. decided to prosecute Atzert, waiting nearly 4 years after the incident to bring it to a Grand Jury, just two weeks before several of the felony charges would have expired due to the statute of limitations.
In addition to murder, Atzert was facing felony charges including aggravated assault, making false statements and oath of office. In 2011, Atzert became the center of the DA’s investigation and was taken off the streets, forced to hand in his badge and gun.
Friday, a Grand Jury cleared the officer of all charges after 2 days of hearing case details. Atzert released the following statement exclusively to CBS46 saying:
“I just want to say thank you first of all to the grand jury. I appreciate all the work they put into the process and the fact that they listened to the evidence presented and were able to come to a educated and fair decision. I’m obviously very happy with the decision. My family and I can hopefully put this behind us and move forward. I’m excited to get back to work. I also have to say thank you to everyone that has supported me and my family throughout the process, especially my fellow officers. I’ll say this. This was not a transparent showing of evidence. The D.A. was gunning for an indictment, not the truth. Very impartial."Sources close to the case also claim evidence against Atzert was falsified. The District Attorney has not commented on this case.