Opinion: Timeline leading to the grand jury for the shooting of Ricky Boyd
In one week, a Civil Grand Jury will take place in Savannah to determine whether the police shooting of Ricky Jerome Boyd will bring criminal charges to any police officers involved.
The police bodycam footage, names and races of the officers involved and the autopsy report for Boyd have not been released.
This is a timeline of media coverage since the day of the shooting.
January 23, 2018
Savannah Morning News
At 6:15 a.m., on a Tuesday morning, Ricky Jerome Boyd died. He was 20 years old, a recent high school graduate and prom king. Local police and U.S marshals arrived to serve Boyd a warrant issued for the murder of Balil Whitfield.
Savannah Police Chief, Mark Revenew, gives a statement to WTOC-TV at 8:34 a.m. saying, “[Boyd] initiated gunfire towards officers. The officers returned gunfire. We do have one of our officers that was shot several times.”
By 12:30 p.m., Revenew holds an official press conference where he says, “Upon officer’s arrival, they called out the suspect and he confronted them with a weapon. [Boyd] was critically injured. We had an officer that was injured also.”
One officer from Savannah metro, Sgt. Sean Wilson, was shot and taken to a hospital.
GBI agent, Bill Bodrey, says that a carbon dioxide-powered BB air gun was found at the crime scene, not an actual handgun. Bodrey maintained that Boyd did not comply with officer’s commands and raised the air gun toward officers.
Sgt. Sean Wilson is treated and released from the hospital.
March 31, 2018
The GBI grants Jameillah Smiley, Ricky Boyd’s mother, to watch the bodycam video from one officer without audio.
April 4, 2018
WTOC-TV presents the differences between the first and second statements from Police Chief Revenew on the day of the shooting.
The case fact sheet from the shooting is pulled by the WTOC-TV and it reads, “A confrontation occurred between Task Force and SCMPD offices which resulted in officers discharging their firearms and striking Boyd.”
Boyd’s grandmother, Mattie Wallace, goes on the record that her grandson had no gun and repeatedly told police officers that Boyd had no gun before they discharged their weapons.
The Claiborne Law Firm releases a video of a combination of news footage, family and neighbor interviews and releases a photograph from the day of the shooting.
The gun that officers claim Boyd held is revealed in the video to be 43 feet from where Boyd was shot by officers.
Referencing the bodycam footage, Smiley said, “They [people watching the video] would see that my son never had a gun. They would see an innocent person getting shot down…”
Smiley says she wants a prosecution brought to involved officers.
The focus at each news outlet is the video and the request by the Claiborne Law Firm and Boyd’s family for Savannah PD to release the bodycam videos.
Mattie Wallace maintains she told officers Boyd had no gun.
It is reported that Boyd did not own a BB gun. Smiley alleges a Savannah detective told her, “Ma’am your son wanted to die,” and that Boyd “exited the house holding a gun.”
She maintains that in the bodycam footage her son is unarmed.
April 19, 2018
Senator Jackson’s letter to Session
State Senator Lester G. Jackson, D-Savannah, wrote a letter U.S. Attorney Jeff Session requesting a transfer of the Ricky Boyd investigation from local investigators to the U.S. Department of Justice to “help avoid potential bias within the local District Attorney’s office and… help restore the community’s trust in this investigation.”
April 23, 2018
An interview with Jameillah Smiley and Will Claiborne is conducted by Amna Nawaz about Boyd’s death. Nawaz asks Smiley about the bodycam footage she maintains her son’s innocence.
She said, “He presented his arms out, like he was surrendering, turned to his left, and he was immediately shot…”.
Smiley says she does not believe there will be a fair and thorough investigation of her son’s death. She claims that the Savannah Police Department now knows her son did not commit the murder that instigated the shooting.
The Savannah PD have not released a statement confirming this. The Whitfield murder case that prompted the shooting is still open.
April 25, 2018
Chatham County District Attorney, Meg Heap, plans to move forward with the case with hopes of bringing it to a Civil Grand Jury. Experts believe this means it is unlikely any officer will be indicted.
Heap disagrees. According to AJC, she believes a civil grand jury is, “a way to consider all the evidence from witnesses and provide a public record afterward through transcript of a closed door meeting.”
April 26, 2018
City Council Meeting
Smiley and an estimated group of 30 supporters gathered during a City Hall meeting. Smiley was asking the city council to pledge their support for the release of the bodycam video.
Mayor Eddie De Loach and every alderman declined under the advisement of City Attorney Brooks Stillwell. “They don’t want to do anything to interfere with the process of justice,” said Stillwell.
The Claiborne Firm releases a second video accusing Savannah PD of selectively withholding this bodycam video when others are released to help the police department.
April 28, 2018
New York Times
The article touches on historical distrust between Savannah and city officials, particularly the local African-American distrust. It also presents Claiborne’s previous cases against Savannah law enforcement.
In November 2016, Boyd was arrested for fleeing police after riding in a stolen truck, but told police he was unaware it was stolen.
When an officer asked Boyd why he ran a police report said, “He began explaining how he runs from the police every time the police make a stop on him, because you know something is wrong…”
CBS news correspondent Mark Strassmann interviews Smiley and Claiborne and attempts to interview the police department, but they decline to give a statement. Smily maintains Boyd’s innocence.
May 7, 2018
Savannah Morning News
Claiborne spoke in a press conference raising concerns about the thoroughness of the investigation citing the neighbor’s photograph of the BB gun from his first video. The photograph was retrieved by the law firm and family, not the police department.
Claiborne set a deadline for the prosecutors to turn the Boyd shooting over to the FBI by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8. He does not comment on the consequences if his deadline is not met.
The article claims Claiborne has been “sensationalizing” Boyd’s shooting while “making allegations both specific and vague about the investigation.”
Meg Heap issues a statement that the Civil Grand Jury will be held May 21. The evidence, including the bodycam footage, could be revealed before the trial, or will be made public after.
Claiborne reiterates his concerns about an indictment in the SMN article.
“Going this route is an option and we are not aware of a single DA in the state of Georgia using this process where a police officer had been indicted,” Claiborne said. “That tells you where they’re going.”
By Kelsey Sanchez