Florida family seeks justice after 11-year-old’s death in DeKalb

IMG_0129Timothy Jones, a Florida resident escaping the path of Hurricane Irma, would have celebrated his 12th birthday Nov. 11. Instead of celebrating his birthday, his family is now seeking answers more than two months after his death.

In September, Jones, his mother Shyra Slack and family members evacuated from Fort Lauderdale to Georgia to escape the path of Hurricane Irma. While at a gathering of friends in Georgia, a dispute over a man turned deadly, according to the family.

In an interview with The Champion, Elizabeth Burns, Jones’ grandmother, said reckless driving and alcohol caused the death of her grandson.

During an altercation at the gathering, Burns said Brianna Roberston confronted Slack about “flirting with her boyfriend.” Roberston then got in her car and ran over the mother. Jones tried to interfere and was struck as well, Burns said.

“When my daughter’s only child [witnessed] that this young lady hit his mother, he approached her and asked her why? She answered him by hitting him twice [with her car] and the second time, he got stuck under the car. He later died at the hospital,” Burns said. “She killed my grandson over a man. My daughter tried to explain to her that [her man] was like family.”

According to Jones’ family members, Roberston was “visibly drunk” during the gathering. The incident occurred in the 400 block of Barbashela Circle near Stone Mountain around 1:20 a.m. on Sept. 11.

Burns said the family wants Roberston charged in the death of Jones.

tj at church

The DeKalb County Traffic Specialist Unit investigated the incident. According to the report, Roberston attempted to leave the location after getting into a verbal altercation with Slack. While Roberston was parked in the driveway, Slack opened her driver door and the two continued to argue.

Jones approached the car to question Roberston about the argument and threw a soda into the car. Roberston then backed up approximately 200 feet on Barbashela Circle while her door was open, knocked over Slack and Jones, ran off the roadway and struck a tree, according to the report.

Dekalb County Public Information Officer Lonzy Robertson said there was not sufficient evidence to charge Roberston with a crime.

“The DUI officers didn’t have probable cause to go forward with field sobriety. There were no indicators to believe she was under the influence at the time they made contact with her,” Robertson said. “The child threw soda on [Roberston] and she felt she needed to leave. The argument started inside the house and [Roberston] attempted to leave from the beginning.”

Burns said DeKalb County officials are not taking the family’s claims seriously.

“They think he’s just another child. He made honor roll every semester and the teachers spoke at his funeral and they all saw something in him,” Burns said. “It’s heartbreaking to know Nov. 11 is his birthday. “I don’t want this murderer to get away with killing an innocent child. He’s well-loved in Fort Lauderdale and in Georgia.”

Karen Allen, who said she first met Jones when he was just a few weeks old, said he was a child who “would light up any room” and “had the soul of a real man for such a young age.”

“I feel hurt to speak of TJ in the past tense. On September 11, 2017 the vicious and illegal act of a young woman under the influence of alcohol violently robbed TJ of his life, his future endeavors, the love of his mother, grandmother and extended family. The fact that she has not been brought to stand trial for the deliberate act of killing him is like a knife straight through the heart,” Allen said. “DeKalb County is not safe for anyone along this woman’s path if she is allowed to drink and drive again.”

Officer Robertson said Roberston may still face charges.

“Detectives spoke with judges and it was determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed with a warrant against her. That doesn’t mean the district attorney’s office won’t decide to indict her later,” Robertson said.

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