Thursday, September 09, 2010

Sick and sad..........

5:09 p.m. Wednesday, September 8, 2010

An unspoken code of silence seems to be preventing Atlanta police homicide detectives from charging anyone with the fatal shooting of a mother of four who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“This was a completely innocent person,” homicide detective Mark Cooper said of 28-year-old Tammy Robinson. “The only mistake she made was coming out of her house. ... That bullet wasn’t meant for Ms. Robinson.”

Two days of animosities between two groups -- neither of which lived at the Grant Park Commons in southeast Atlanta -- led to the shooting on Aug. 28. The group that was armed had come to the complex looking for their antagonists over a “minor ongoing dispute,” Cooper said Wednesday.

He declined to be specific about the reason for the dispute but said, “in most cases, this should have been handled with words.”

About 75 people were milling round outside when the first shots were fired, but nobody who was questioned admitted to witnessing the shooting.

“I know the residents of this complex saw something,” Cooper said.

Moments before the shooting, Robinson and a friend were sitting on a bench. They decided to go inside when they saw indications that trouble was coming, according to her younger sister, Tisha.

They were walking back to her apartment when Tammy Robinson was shot in the face.

“I need witnesses to come forward,” Cooper said. “The individual they were shooting at had nothing to do with the incident the night before.”

Detectives have tried to interview people who are said to have “witnessed the shooting, but they are not willing to talk. We have an idea of the individual involved.”

Two men they suspect are vaguely described as in their early 20s and both about 5 feet, 10 inches tall.

But no one is talking.

And that’s not unusual, according to Georgia State University criminal justice professor Volkan Tapalli.

“It’s pervasive and it’s something that’s common in most large cities across the United States,” Tapalli said of the no-snitch philosophy.

The unwritten rule applies to those who live in an area where a crime occurred as much as it does to the offender, he said.

There is no one reason for the resistance, he said.

“It’s breaking a code. It’s being afraid. There’s always fear of reprisal,” Tapalli told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The ethics are that you’re supposed to mind your own business and not get into the affairs of others. In some cases, it may be considered you’re preempting somebody’s ability to extract retribution on their own.”

The dead woman’s sister tried to put it in a context she hoped witnesses would understand.

"This could be your sister, your aunt,” Tisha Robinson said.

She referred to her four nephews -- the 2- and 4-year-olds who live with their grandmother and the 8- and 10-year-olds who live with her -- in pleading for someone to report what they saw.

“We lost our mother at a young age. We lost our father at a young age,” Tisha Robinson said of herself and her older sister, whom she said was a recently laid-off clerk at the Fulton County Superior Court.

But the mind-set that does not allow for cooperation with the police may be too entrenched to overcome, Topalli said.

“A lot of this comes out of a historical mistrust of the police,” Topalli said. “They probably don’t think they are making it any more dangerous for others [if they don’t help police]. They don’t think the police are capable of dealing with this. But most homicides are cleared.”

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