With a hat tip to Martha K., the following story was reported on Friday by Michael King of 11 Alive News in Atlanta:
ATLANTA — A murdered convenience store clerk might be alive if not for a slip-up the last time his alleged killer was arrested.
Yusef Cantrell, 27, should have been in jail instead of out on the streets Sunday night when he’s accused of killing a clerk at a West End convenience store.
Atlanta police have had an outstanding warrant for aggravated assault against Cantrell since late last year. On March 20, he was arrested for marijuana possession. At the jail, he gave a fake name — Tobias Cantrell — to jailers, and was released.
They never made the connection to the outstanding warrant. Two days later, convenience store clerk Harish “Harry” Roy, 24, was shot and killed. . . .
[P]olice say Cantrell leaped over the counter and immediately shot clerk Harry Roy in the forehead. Roy never stood a chance. As Roy’s body lie on the floor, Cantrell straddled it and passed cigar boxes full of money across the counter to his accomplice, Damiam Grover.
A 24-year old is dead in a crime that could have been prevented if the suspect had been fingerprinted and the fingerprints identified the last time he was taken to the city jail. This is a shocking disgrace, made worse by Cantrell’s (of course) substantial prior record, which includes an escape charge in DeKalb County.
Yet, three days later, the silence from City Hall is deafening. What, precisely, will it take for Mayor Shirley Franklin to rise from her slumber and demand or show accountability regarding her own staff? Here is the featured news story today on the City of Atlanta website:
City of Atlanta’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Awarded Accreditation by the National Recreation and Parks Association.
The website is also promoting a golf tournament featuring Shirley Franklin (The Mayor’s Cup) and encouraging residents to “take action” by participating in Earth Hour.
No word on action taken to ensure that other violent felons have not been released from the Atlanta City Jail without being checked for outstanding warrants first. Golf tournaments while the city burns. Bloody bread and circuses.
Meanwhile, Chief of Police Richard Pennington has, to date, also utterly failed to weigh in. Pennngton’s officers apparently picked up Yusef Cantrell and delivered him to jail, where he was wrongfully released and went on to kill an innocent citizen. All the effort, and risk taken by Pennington’s officers came to nothing because of a shockingly careless error committed at the City Jail. Why is this of no concern to the Chief? Why is he not speaking out? Doesn’t he work weekends? This is what administrators get paid for, right?
And where is Diane Jones, Assistant Chief of the City of Atlanta’s Department of Corrections? Why isn’t she very busy explaining how her employees failed to check an inmate’s fingerprints before they let him go? (Perhaps not calling them “clients” would be a start.) Is it common practice to take the offender’s word for fact when they offer a name that might be an alias, rather than checking their fingerprints at the jail? Is this practice only coming to light because somebody got killed, and reporter Mike King did the footwork? Cantrell even gave jailers his correct last name. Why didn’t that trigger a warrant check? Are there so many wanted felons with the same last name that it didn’t even ring a bell? Or, in reality, did nobody check anything?
So, how many other dangerous felons with outstanding warrants are released without consequence and walking the streets because they don’t do fingerprinting at the City Jail?
Some more unanswered questions: how much money does the Assistant Corrections Chief get to do her job? Where was she this weekend? Administrators earn handsome salaries and benefits, allegedly because they are supposed to shoulder the responsibility when something goes wrong. That’s the way the system is supposed to work: that’s why they get the big bucks. Yet Ms. Jones hasn’t even answered a question, let alone taken responsibility. She has a lot of explaining to do. And then she should be fired. Here is the City of Atlanta website, with contact numbers.
Harish Roy deserved better. A friend said of him: “He was always a great example of being a gentleman, and being very trustworthy, honest and funny.”
You would think some of the elected officials in Atlanta could bother to get around to simply saying that.