Thursday, November 26, 2009



Dear Community,

            We need your help immediately! Please read this information and forward it to everyone you know. Our prayer is that the spirit of Thanksgiving will lead you to help give this family something to be extremely thankful for. As you read, remember, this could easily be your son.

            An unfortunate event has occurred in the Atlanta Metro area and a young man desperately needs your help.  Eric A. Johnson recently graduated from Creekside High School as an honor student and member of the Beta Club.  He has been working the past few months in order to help support his mother and had plans of attending Westwood College in January.  Ever since his father died three years ago in a tragic house fire accident, Eric has faced adversity and overcome numerous life obstacles to become a successful young man.  However, Eric was recently incarcerated for a crime he had no part in or knowledge of.  Please allow me to introduce you to the facts that led to the current crisis our community is facing.


On Monday night, August 17, 2009, Antoine Wimes and Donavon McCoy are alleged to have shot "Nikki" Neely and seriously injured her 10-month-old baby in a vicious and senseless home invasion.  On August 18, 2009, after seeing the news reports of this horrific attack, Eric A. Johnson called 911 and reported to police that he had "given a ride" to the suspects earlier in the evening.  Eric gave a statement to Officer Byars of the Fulton County Police Department. Eric told Officer Byars that he was asked by Antoine Wimes to give him a ride in exchange for "gas money."  Eric told Officer Byars that he picked up Antoine Wimes and another young man that he met for the first time named "Dino."  He drove them to a gas station, brought gas and then took them further down South Fulton Parkway and dropped them off.  The police have obtained and reviewed the gas station video that confirms Eric was at the gas station at 5:45 p.m.  Additionally, in the initial statement to police, Donavan McCoy stated that they he and Antoine Wimes were "dropped off."  Additionally, an independent witness, Virginia Bonylan, reported to police that she saw Antoine Wimes and Donavan McCoy in the area at 7:30 p.m.  She did not see or identify Eric Johnson as being with Antoine Wimes or Donavan McCoy.  Also, during the bond hearing Ms. Bonylan testified that Antoine Wimes and Donvan McCoy were coming out of the driveway of Johnny Jones driveway when she saw them.  Ms. Bonylan saw these two men again later in the evening at 10:30 p.m. and gave them a ride.  Police were dispatched for the shooting at 8:40 p.m.  We have alibi witnesses that Eric Johnson was home well before dark on August 17, 2009.

On August 17, 2009 the sun set at 8:22 P.M. Eric told Officer Byars that he knew Antoine Wimes from previously living in the same subdivision.  Officer Byars informed Eric and his mother, Loleta Horton, that Chattahoochee Hills Police would be contacting him.  Apparently, when Eric Johnson was contacted by Chattahoochee Hills Police, the aggressive manner in which Detectives spoke with his mother made her uncomfortable with allowing her son to speak to them without an attorney present.  On Thursday, August 27, 2009, Eric was arrested at his home in Union City.  During the Bond Hearing the lead detective, Jamie Melton, admitted that he had no evidence that Eric A. Johnson was present at the time of the shooting or knew that Antoine Wimes and Donovan McCoy intended on committing any crime. Additionally, the Detective testified under oath that if Eric A. Johnson would have "talked" to him he would not have obtained arrest warrants.
Without any evidence and with a story that makes no sense, on September 1, 2009, Eric Johnson was indicted along with Antoine Wimes and Donavon McCoy.  Eric Johnson is charged with multiple felonies including: 2 counts of Aggravated Battery, Armed Robbery, Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and Cruelty to Children.  On September 9th, after hearing evidence on an Emergency Motion for Bond, Judge Goger granted a total bond of $50,000.  As of today, Eric remains in jail unable to post a bond. Eric's mother is unemployed and his father is deceased. Community, we need you! While the crime allegedly committed by Antoine Wimes and Donavon McCoy was heinous to say the very least and our prayer is that we see 'justice flow like a river,' Eric Johnson is innocent!

In the spirit of Ujima, Collective Work and Responsibility, our prayer is that we all embrace our crucial responsibility to work together. Our working together is the key to solving the problems of and building and maintaining healthy African communities. In this case, our working together is critical to our fight not only to gain the freedom of an innocent young man but, to also let him know that he is a member of a larger community that cares about him. If we don't show him we care, someone else will!

Please help us in our fight for Eric Johnson's release.  We need 250 people to donate $25.00. Your donation will help towards the $5,000.00 needed to post bond as well as transcripts that will be associated with the case. Attorney Mawuli 'Mel' Davis, one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the state of Georgia offered, "I am providing my services and reputation pro bono because it is clear that this young man is innocent."

Donations are being accepted payable to Sankofa United Church of Christ. Please log on to our website at or Go to our 'On Line Giving' page, fill in your name and email address, type in the 'Message' field; 'FREE ERIC JOHNSON' and finally click donate to make your donation of at least $25.00. An innocent young black man and his mother both need you!   "We want to make sure Eric is released from jail by Thanksgiving. He deserves to eat a Thanksgiving meal at home with his family as most of us will on Thursday." said Reverend Derrick Rice, Pastor of Sankofa United Church of Christ.

You can also stress your concerns by writing letters to the District Attorney of Fulton County Paul Howard at 136 Pryor Street Third Floor, Atlanta, GA, 30303-3477.  Keep updated on current information regarding the case by logging on to  Thank you for your time and consideration.

God Bless You!
Reverend Derrick Rice, M.Div.
Pastor, Sankofa United Church of Christ

African Community Centers
3079 Campbellton Rd. S.W. Suite 114
Atlanta, GA 30344 usa (404) 344-5454