ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Attorneys revealed new and disturbing details in the case of Champion Prep Academy football player JauMarcus McFarland, 18, who was crushed to death during an elevator incident. They announced plans to file a lawsuit and said those involved could face criminal charges.
Shean Williams, one of the attorneys and a partner with The Cochran Firm, said the investigation has uncovered more tragedy on top of what the family is already facing. “What we’ve learned and seen tragically is that this school has given this family the runaround, not only in his death, but after his death,” he said. McFarland would have turned 19 years old on October 8, 2021.READ MORE: Ready To Restart The Race: Phil Keoghan Talks About The Return Of 'The Amazing Race' After A 19-Month "Pit Stop"
The elevator incident happened at the 444 Highland Avenue Apartments in Atlanta, which is where the academy operates. The attorneys said the students are required to reside there. A fire inspection report revealed more about the incident. “The safety equipment that was designed to be a part of that elevator system, the breaking and the roping system, it was worn, it was contaminated,” said Sam Starks, a senior attorney who also represents the family. He said the components were not operating properly. “JauMarcus had been trapped and crushed to death by an elevator that had not been properly inspected and maintained,” Starks said. He added, “We knew that that building was operating that building without a permit and without the inspection that’s required by Georgia law.”
They say only one of the two elevators was working that day, and that the elevator in question did not suddenly fail based on the number of occupants, as, according to the attorneys, the school has indicated. “We have reports of the air not working for months, hot water’s not working, the elevator not working, and they are operating their school in this building,” Williams said. “They knew about problems with that elevator much before this incident,” said Starks.READ MORE: Local Puppies Making Their Debut At The Puppy Bowl XVIII
Attorneys say the prep academy set up a GoFundMe account for the family to collect funds for the funeral costs. “After six weeks, this family has not gotten the funds that the public gave,” said Williams. “The funeral has occurred, bills have occurred, and yet, we’ve gotten the runaround, different excuses, different reasons.” The prep academy collected at least $20,000 through the account. “The GoFundMe account should have been just set up in the family’s name. It was set up for the benefit of Champion Prep Academy,” Williams added.
The attorneys are now taking legal action to recover the money, and they’re suing the complex and prep academy for the sub-standard conditions they say led to the elevator malfunction. They’re also asking Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to pursue criminal charges.MORE NEWS: Mulberry Man Fatally Shot On Sunday Evening
The prep academy had not responded to CW69’s request for comment as of the afternoon.