Atlanta, GA – The Fulton County district attorney released video of a fugitive shooting an Atlanta police officer in February and strongly expressed her objection to releasing the gunman on bond (video below).
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant held a joint news conference on Wednesday to criticize a judge’s decision to release 22-year-old Christian Eppinger on bond, WSB reported.
Eppinger, a known member of the Young Slime Life (YSL) street gang, was wanted on warrants for robbery and aggravated assault with a firearm in October of 2021 when police tried to arrest him near on Old Hapeville Road near the Colonial Square Apartments on Feb. 7.
Prosecutors said that Eppinger had been committing violent crimes since he was 13 years old and has “YSL” tattooed on his face, WSB reported.
When he was 16 years old in 2016, Eppinger was arrested for carjacking a woman with a small child and pointing a gun in her face.
He then crashed the woman’s car as he fled police, according to WSB.
Eppinger was indicted as an adult but was allowed to plead guilty to reduced charges as a first offender.
He was sentenced to five years in prison plus probation, WSB reported.
Willis, who was not district attorney when Eppinger’s plea deal was made, said the armed robbery charge in the indictment alone should have gotten the gang member a minimum 10 years behind bars.
“He would have been still in. He would’ve had to do nine years of the 10,” Willis told WSB.
A Georgia Department of Community Supervision (DCS) official said Eppinger reported to the field office once in May of 2021 but never reported in again.
Warrants were issued for his arrest, WGCL reported.
The surveillance video from Feb. 7 showed Atlanta Police Officer David Rodgers pulled up in a police car as Eppinger was walking down a sidewalk.
Video showed Officer Rodgers approached the wanted man from behind to take him into custody and that Eppinger resisted arrest and immediately became violent.
The struggled was captured on video and showed the suspect shoved the officer and stepped into the street in front of a parked car as he pulled out a gun.
Then the video showed Eppinger raised the weapon and opened fire on the police officer.
Eppinger shot Officer Rodgers six times, WSB reported.
The video showed he fled the crime scene on foot.
“He really attempted to assassinate him,” Willis said. “Just by the grace of God, this officer lived.”
Eppinger was arrested and charged with the attempted murder of Officer Rodgers, WGCL reported.
He has been held in custody since his arrest.
On Monday, a judge granted Eppinger a $65,000 bond, WGCL reported.
Prosecutors argued that the defendant is an “extremely dangerous gang member.”
But Judge Alexandra Manning, a magistrate judge who was temporarily allowed to help superior court judges catch up a backlog of cases, said Eppinger had already been in custody for 71 days without an indictment, WGCL reported.
Georgia state law grants prosecutors 90 days to secure an indictment before automatic bond kicks in so it was unclear why Manning felt pressed to release Eppinger, WGCL reported.
Prosecutors said that shortly after bond was granted, Eppinger or someone on his behalf posted about it on social media.
“The judge gave me a bond today. I’ll be home soon,” Eppinger’s Instagram account boasted.
The district attorney didn’t hold back on her feelings at the press conference with the police chief, WGCL reported.
“The mayor and me have been really disgusted with this, as well of the chief of police. Because while he was on probation, it was clear that he was not monitored. He did not report,” Willis said.
She promised the public that she would make sure that Eppinger was not released, WGCL reported.
“I want to be very clear for the public, though. Mr. Eppinger is not getting out of jail,” Willis said. “There is a hold on him from the Fulton County Jail.”
She said Eppinger was scheduled for a sentencing hearing next week on a probation revocation related to the 2016 conviction when he got first-offender status, WGCL reported.
Willis said the would-be cop killer could be sentenced to as many as 60 years in prison for his probation violations.
The district attorney said her office had also file an emergency motion asking the court to reconsider Manning’s bond ruling, WGCL reported.
“I have a problem with the process,” Willis said. “I have a problem with the fact that judges that are not elected, that are not superior court judges, would even have the authority right now to hear cases that involve gangs.”
Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat told reporters the corrections officers were searching the jail to look for cellphones and other contraband to try and determine the origin of Eppinger’s Instagram post, WGCL reported.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content: