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By David Simpson
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

DeKALB, Ga. - A DeKalb County grand jury has found police justified in eight use-of-force cases last year, including the fatal shooting of a knife-wielding man who battled several officers.
The findings are part of District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming's newly announced policy of having a grand jury review every police shooting in DeKalb and report a "civil finding" on whether it was justified - separate from any decision on whether an officer should be prosecuted for a crime.
Last week, a grand jury returned a murder indictment against former officer Torrey Thompson in the slaying of an armed robbery suspect, 21-year-old Lorenzo Matthews, on Sept. 12, 2006.
The eight cases ruled justified, all from 2007, were reviewed by a grand jury that met in May and June. Its report, issued this month, said no further criminal investigation is necessary in those cases.
One of the eight police shooting incidents ended in the death of Bryant Todd Stokes, 34. DeKalb County police said Stokes walked down a street near Stone Mountain shouting and waving a butcher knife on May 16, 2007. Four officers tried to subdue him with batons and pepper spray. Police said he was shot when he lunged at an officer with the knife.
The panel also upheld the use of force in three other incidents involving county police, two involving Atlanta police in DeKalb, and one each involving Avondale Estates and Doraville officers.
The reviews follow a yearlong investigation by a special grand jury of a rash of police shootings in DeKalb in 2006. Those cases included 12 fatal shootings by county police.
Of officers who fired weapons in those cases, the special grand jury recommended criminal investigations only of Thompson and a group of federal agents who killed a man during a separate incident. The U.S. attorney's office subsequently said it would not prosecute the federal agents.
Keyes Fleming's office revealed this week it has begun a process of presenting to grand jurors all use-of-force cases beginning in 2005, when she took office, as well as a few cases from earlier years.

Wire Service
 
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