On the four-month anniversary of Ricky Boyd's death, a Civil Grand Jury has decided not to indict the law enforcement officers who shot and killed him.
Law enforcement officers shot Boyd in January as they tried to serve him a warrant. Grand jurors have heard testimony for three days now, including accounts from neighbors about what happened on Marian Circle.
In the summary statement, the jury states that Boyd was aware when he walked out of his residence on Jan. 23 that he was about to be placed under arrest for his alleged involvement in an active murder warrant.
According to the jury summary, “when Ricky Boyd came out of his residence on Jan. 23, 2018, he possessed a BB gun pistol.”
The statement goes on to say the BB gun had the appearance of a real firearm. The jury also states that Boyd had his hands in his pocket area when he exited the house.
The jury summary states, “when Ricky Boyd was ordered to raise his hands above his head, initially he refused and a short time later, he quickly removed his hands from his pocket area holding a BB gun and assumed a shooter’s two-handed stance while pointing the BB gun in the direction of officers.”
Civilian neighbor eyewitnesses said that they knew the Boyd family. They observed Boyd exit the house, ignore officers’ demands and pull out what appeared to be a gun and point it at police.
A civilian eyewitness stated they observed Boyd fire the weapon he held has evidence by seeing his finger squeezing the trigger followed by an apparent muzzle discharge before police fired at Boyd.
The report states that eight officers fired at Boyd.
After Boyd was struck by gunfire and fell to the ground, the jury says that officers appeared reluctant to approach him because the gun was in close proximity to his body and officers were unaware if Boyd was still a threat.
An officer stated that he picked up the gun and moved it because he was afraid that a family member or nearby person could potentially pose a threat.
The jury states that they do not believe the gun was moved under suspicious circumstances. The officer’s action of retrieving the weapon then moving it back behind the pine tree was corroborated by multiple civilian and law enforcement witness testimony.
The Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department officer that was shot during the incident was found to have been hit by a ricocheted bullet off the house. The bullet was fired from a Deputy United States Marshal.
"We believe the evidence shows our police officers acted professionally and appropriately, and we will continue to honorably and respectfully serve our community, "Savannah Police Chief Mark Revenew said on Thursday morning at a news conference.
Here's Revenew's full statement:
On behalf of the former Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department, we have received and respect the grand jury’s findings. We also respect the process which produced this result – a process that compelled our silence pending conclusion. Between the tragic events of Jan. 23 and the decision, the public has been subjected to a one-sided, calculated campaign of misinformation. The evidence and independent witnesses’ statements, which have been presented to the grand jury and the media, undercuts and disproves these allegations.
We have intentionally remained quiet throughout the course of this process in an effort to preserve its integrity. At each stage of the events leading up to, during and following this tragedy, we have neither interfered with nor attempted to influence the outcome. The public should have total confidence in the process and its result.
On Jan. 23, U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Task Force and Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department officers attempted to serve an arrest warrant on Mr. Boyd for murder. The warrant was issued by an independent judge after he determined probable cause existed to arrest him for murder.
In the immediate aftermath of this incident, this department and the U.S. Marshals voluntarily agreed to turn the investigation over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). The GBI, an independent state agency, has extensive experience investigating officer-involved shootings. When the evidence supports as much, they do not hesitate to arrest and prosecute police officers and other officials for unlawful conduct. There should be no question as to the GBI’s qualifications or impartiality.
The results of the GBI’s investigation were delivered to the district attorney, another independent office with an extensive track record of prosecuting police officers and other officials. Consistent with state law and her legal obligations, the case was presented to the grand jury, which was empaneled by an independent Chatham County Superior Court judge.
We look forward to these other agencies releasing their facts and findings of their investigations for public review. We encourage everyone, including the media, to objectively review the evidence and witnesses’ statements in their entirety. Please do not receive pieces or information taken out of context to further an agenda or promote divisiveness within our community. We have learned the U.S. Department of Justice intends to review this case. We welcome this and we will fully cooperate. In conclusion, on Friday this department will release its own records, which include the incident reports and body worn camera footage. We believe the evidence shows that our police officers acted professionally and appropriately, and we will continue to honorably and respectfully serve our citizens.
Officers were on the scene to serve an arrest warrant related to the murder of Balil Whitfield a few days earlier. The grand jury heard testimony from the lead investigator in that case.
The investigator stated that Boyd and a family member planned to rob Whitfield during a marijuana sale. Boyd and the other family member entered the back seat of Whitfield’s car. Boyd’s family member sat behind Whitfield in the back seat. He was armed.
The investigator stated that Boyd’s family member shot Whitfield several times in the back and head.
Both Boyd and his family member fled the scene. Another witness described one of the persons who fled as dropping a cell phone. The cell phone was recovered by police and determined to belong to Boyd.
A family member gave a taped statement to the GBI that Boyd stated he lost his cell phone on Jan. 21 and he had been acting odd since that day.
Grand Jury Witness Testimony
Up until now, mum has been the word from police, state investigators, and the district attorney on the evidence packed into the Boyd shooting file - standard for an open investigation. Now, much of the testimony seen and heard by the grand jury is out - and it's shocking - to say the least.
On the warrant being served to Boyd for the murder of Balil Whitfield that January morning, it was Boyd's mother who told a homicide detective that Ricky 'admitted to his father his participation in the murder.' Investigators confirmed to jurors that a cell phone recovered at the murder scene...'determined to belong to Ricky Boyd.'
As to Ricky Boyd's response to police officers' commands, a relative of Boyd's on the scene told police, 'Ricky Boyd refused to raise his hands above his head as ordered by law enforcement officers.' That same relative told police he 'heard him fire his gun first.'
As we've reported before, the GBI invited the family to the DA's office to see the only body camera footage shortly after Boyd's death. They insisted on multiple occasions they saw no weapon in Ricky's hand. The grand jury saw the same video and it was clear to them Boyd not only had a weapon but took a two-handed stance, aiming it at officers.
That body camera footage was finally released to the public on Wednesday:
This was part of WTOC's conversation with Boyd's grandmother back in April.
WTOC: "You've seen this footage?"
Mattie Smiley-Wallace: "Yes."
WTOC: "Is it body camera footage?"
Mattie Smiley-Wallace: "Yes."
WTOC: "Does it hold up to what you're telling me here today?"
Mattie Smiley-Wallace: "Yes."
Wallace and the family's attorney, Will Claiborne, insist the release of the body camera footage will tell the story.
"The reason I want the video to be seen, they will see that Ricky didn't have a gun," Smiley-Wallace said. "That's why it's important. They will see that my grandson got shot for nothing."
Here's what those jurors say they saw when they watched the same video:
As for the 42-foot distance that BB gun was found away from Boyd's body, a sergeant testified he moved the gun away from Boyd's body and secured it below a pine tree next door.
Neighbors also testified that Ricky's mother, Jamiellah Smiley, made 'both veiled and unveiled threats' to them related to the case.
Finally, on the family's statement that they were never offered the opportunity to review their GBI statements prior to the grand jury, jurors were told several attempts were made to get the family in to do just that.
Every other civilian witness testified they were given the same opportunity.
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