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What’s next for Oakwood man’s family after DA decides no charges for police officers
Adam English.jpg
Adam English

Following the district attorney’s announcement of no charges for two Gainesville Police officers in the September 2019 fatal shooting of an Oakwood man, representatives for the man’s family said they are focused on getting justice through an ongoing lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh released a letter Dec. 31 to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation stating he would not seek criminal charges for Officers Jose Hernandez and Jonathan Fowler following the death of Adam English.

The civil lawsuit was originally filed in June against the city of Gainesville and the two officers.

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English was shot around 5 p.m. Sept. 20, 2019, near the Northeast Georgia Physicians Group surgical associates building on Jesse Jewell Parkway after reports he was waving a gun around. 

“We’re just really focused on getting civil justice for the family basically through the wrongful death lawsuit that we filed,” said attorney Seth Eisenberg, who is representing English’s mother in the civil lawsuit.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called in to probe the police shooting and turned the file over to Darragh’s office for review in late 2019. Eisenberg said they are now pursuing the full investigative file through open records.

The attorney for English’s father filed a notice Monday, Jan. 4, to take Darragh’s deposition in the case.

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An investigator photographs the contents of a bag at the scene of an officer-involved shooting Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in which Adam English died. - photo by Nate McCullough

The Gainesville Police Department did not return multiple requests for comment regarding the case.

The Times asked Darragh follow-up questions on why the review of the case took roughly one year to complete, why he chose to decide the case without a grand jury and what factors of the investigation led him to not pursue charges.

“A prosecutor should not pursue a possible (grand jury) indictment if he does not in good faith believe that a prosecution should proceed,” Darragh said in a statement. “No one factor by itself governed the decision, but the totality of the circumstances and the lack of criminal intent, as indeed cited in my letter, did. My decision was a result of careful study and deliberation.”

Eisenberg said English’s family did not want to comment on the district attorney’s announcement.

The lawsuit alleges violations of the Fourth Amendment rights and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as the plaintiffs’ attorney claim English suffered from mental illness.

The lawsuit is seeking a judgment to be determined after a jury trial, though federal jury trials have been put on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“As COVID cases have gone back on the rise, all jury trials continue to be suspended, which is creating a backlog for when the case could actually be closed,” Eisenberg said.

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