Ricky Boyd, 20, was shot outside his grandmother's home three months ago Monday. Law enforcement in Georgia went to arrest Boyd, claiming he was a murder suspect, but shot him. They claimed he had a firearm, which turned out to be a BB gun found 45 feet away. Boyd's mother, Jameillah Smiley, talks with Amna Nawaz in her first national broadcast interview, with her attorney, Will Claiborne.
Now, a fatal police shooting in Georgia leads to questions about how officers reacted, killing a man in his family's front yard.
Twenty-year-old Ricky Boyd was shot outside his grandmother's home three months ago today. The Savannah police have said Boyd was a suspect in a murder, and, along with U.S. Marshals, went to the house to arrest him.
They initially said Boyd fired first and was killed. They later said he walked out with a firearm, which was eventually found to be a BB gun. The family deny that Boyd was involved with a murder and say he was unarmed. The BB gun, they said, was later found nearly 45 feet from the house.
They are now asking the police department to release body-cam video from the shooting.
The police department, the state's attorney and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation all wouldn't comment on a pending investigation.
We talked earlier today with Boyd's mother, Jameilla Smiley, and her attorney, Will Claiborne.
Jameilla Smiley and Will Claiborne, welcome to the "NewsHour." Thank you for making the time.
Ms. Smiley, I would like to start by asking you about a key piece of evidence that a lot of people are focused on right now. That is the body camera footage. You want to see that released.
You have seen footage from one of the officers who was on scene that day. Can you take a moment and describe for me what you saw in that footage?
As I was looking at the film on the laptop — they let me look at this film on a laptop — and I noticed my son was coming out of the door.
He was wiping his eye. And he walked out, presented his arms out, like he was surrendering, turned to his left, and he was immediately shot, falling forward to the ground.
Ms. Smiley, the Savannah police maintain that your son had a BB gun in his arms, that he confronted them with what they didn't know at the time was a BB gun.
Do you have any reason to believe he had one in his hands, or was there one in the house he had access to?
No, ma'am, he never had a gun in his hand at all.
Mr. Claiborne, let me ask you. You are representing this family.
Of course, you have published a video now, pulling together some of the questions that you say still remain in the killing of Ricky Boyd.
There are a couple of photos that you have pulled out. One, the authorities released showing what they say was the BB gun that Ricky was holding, and another that shows a sort of yard area. There's some police tape cordoning the area off, some cars lining the street.
What is that photo supposed to show? Why is that significant?
There were a lot of bullets that were fired by enforcement that morning, and those bullets struck a neighboring house and car.
And the neighbor stepped outside and took a photograph, so he could show where those bullets had come from. When he looked at that photograph more closely, what he saw was a gun lying on the ground. We were able to take that photograph and place the gun roughly on the ground where it was found.
You will note, that neighbor's photograph, the gun is laying on a bed of pine straw, same as the photograph release bid the GBI. From that placement of the BB gun, we were able to measure to where Ricky Boyd was shot. And it's approximately 43 feet.
Ms. Smiley, let me ask you now.
Today marks three months to the day since this incident in which your son was killed. What has that time been like for you?
It's been really, really hard.
Just taking it day by day. I just really would like to have some answers about my son's killing. It's been really, really hard.
Ms. Smiley, I understand the police chief came to your home and promised you and your family that there would be a fair and thorough investigation. Do you believe that that will happen?
I'm three months into his killing and have yet to receive an autopsy. I have yet to receive any type of information concerning my son's killing.
And it's also our understanding the police were there that day, along with U.S. Marshals, to serve a warrant to your son. They believe that he was involved in the murder of another young man a few days earlier.
Do you or anyone in your family have any reason to believe that your son was involved in that murder?
Ma'am, the local detectives here also have been back to my home. And, no, they have said that my son — they know my son not — have not committed this murder.
So, I don't know why they have not come forth and cleared my son's name. But they know my son didn't commit that murder.
You're saying law enforcement there have already confirmed to you that they know your son wasn't involved in that murder?
That was the reason they came to the house in the first place that day.
One of the detectives that was on the case, she said it out of her mouth, that she knows my son didn't commit this murder.
Amna, if I can…
Yes, please go ahead.
We requested information about the January 21 homicide. And what we received back from the Savannah Police Department was a letter indicating that that was still an active and open investigation.
We know and are confident that Ricky Boyd didn't commit that murder. And the Savannah Police Department knows it. What they haven't done is told the citizens here in Savannah that that murderer is walking free.
They haven't made an arrest in that case. And we have no real confidence at this point that they are taking productive steps to address that murder. That's another family that deserves justice.
Do you have any sense of timeline now, what will happen next in the investigation?
We have been given no sense of a timeline here, no idea when we're going to get answers as to what happened to Ricky.
And we're being forced to just simply wait, which can only be agonizing for Ricky's family.
I would like to point out that there is information that is routinely released in officer-involved shootings that we have not received. We don't know who shot Ricky. We don't know if that individual is on administrative leave. We know nothing about their background.
They're providing absolutely no information whatsoever.
Let me ask you about the body camera footage, though, because I understand that's central to some of the requests here. You would like to see that released.
What have they told you about when it will be released or if it will be released?
All they are saying is that this is an active investigation, and as part of the investigation file, they won't release it.
But I would like to point out that they did release photographs of this BB gun that they claim that Ricky had. And they have released other matters from their investigative file. But they are choosing to selectively withhold this.
What they need to do is just show that video and allow the public to see what actually occurred.
This case has certainly caught the rest of the country's attention.
And even the White House has been asked about similar incidents with police-involved shootings. They have basically said that these are local matters to be handled by local authorities. What do you say to that?
Well, I guess the question is, how do you tell this family to trust local authorities and that this is a local matter, when the very first thing that happened that morning was for the police chief to stand on the street corner and tell verifiable falsehoods about what occurred?
To tell this family that this is a local matter and to trust local authorities to handle it, when local authorities have been lying from the very first minute, it's just inhumane.
It's worth noting that we requested comment or an interview with both Savannah police and Georgia law enforcement, and they declined.
Ms. Smiley, if you don't mind, I would like to ask you. There's obviously been a lot of news, a lot of stories, a lot of reporting surrounding this one incident, this one day.
What can you tell us about your son? What's not being said about him right now?
What's not being said, that — excuse me — what's not being said, that he was innocent, he was a good person, and that he didn't commit any of those things that these officers are saying.
He never shot at a cop. He never committed a murder. And my life's son is taken.
Jameilla Smiley and Will Claiborne, thank you very much for your time.
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