Sunday, June 20, 2021

‘ATL Homicide’ Detectives David Quinn and Vince Velazquez Dish About ‘Pulse Pounding’ New Season [EUR Exclusive]

ATL Homicide

*The third season of the #1 True Crime series “ATL Homicide” on TV One premieres tonight (Jan. 25), featuring ‘The First 48’ alumni detectives David Quinn and Vince Velazquez, who serve up dramatic recreations of their past criminal cases.

According to a press release, the season three premiere episode spotlights the ruthless shooting death of 19-year-old Ladeddric Love, a senseless crime the detective duo recounts quite vividly. Not a stranger to street life, Love was shot one evening but succumbed to his gunshot wounds shortly after driving his pregnant girlfriend and toddler to a nearby precinct. Upon being assigned the case, Detectives Quinn and Velazquez get to work speaking to witnesses, including the victim’s mother, to pull together the pieces of this fatal mystery. Ladeddric’s mother tips off the detectives by telling them that her son may not have been entirely innocent and even provides a key name. Yet, when she refused to give out any more information, the detectives are left with even more puzzle pieces to find.

We caught up with the detectives to dish the Ladeddric case, the cases that have had the greatest impact and why “ATL Homicide” keeps the viewers totally engaged — especially women.

Get into our conversation below.

The first episode of this new season, the Ladeddric Love case, kept me on the edge of my seat. You both note throughout the episode how tips and leads poured in rather quickly.

David Quinn: Well, as far as that’s concerned, you’re only as good as your luck. It’s actually like a lottery. You don’t know when your numbers are going to come up, and sometimes people are moved for a variety of different reasons. Ladeddrick, while he was challenged in a lot of ways, he was trying to change his life. So, some people felt like they had to jump in and give us a few clues. Now, they rarely give you 100%, but they give you a few puzzle pieces, and you got to put in the work. We’re always appreciative though.

How difficult is it to relive some of these cases, and how much input do you have on the cases that are profiled on the series? 

David Quinn: We have a tremendous amount of input. That TV One allowed us from the outset to start getting involved. I mean, they gave us producer credit because the one thing TV One told us when we started this project, “Be yourselves. Whatever it is you did on the street, we want you to do on the show.” They were looking for a real reality show, not just one in name only. And so, they got the bread, the butter and the corn bread with the events.

And Vince, has it been emotionally challenging revisiting some of these heinous crimes?

Vince Valezquez: These cases are like a familiar fragrance that reminds you of your childhood or a point in your life. That’s what it is. It’s in your head. It’s there. And there’s things that happen in your life that make you remember those things, as much as we try to forget them. But what we never forget or want to forget is what those cases are really about. And it’s about the victims and the families. Now, all the work that goes into it and stuff that we have to do or did to solve the case, that’s stressful. And there’s a lot of anxiety that packs up, and it’s just all packed in there. It’s in there.

So, when we sit down, and we start thinking about, “We have to talk about this case again,” and it was 10 years ago or 15 years ago. All those memories, that familiar fragrance, that deja vu moment of something that you could remember that you feel like you’ve experienced before, happens again.

You also asked the question earlier about how do we, what input do we have? We cataloged our cases, and we allowed the network and the production company to kind of go through them and pick, because there are cases that we didn’t take a very long time to solve, so production value for those cases may not be as good as the ones that took forever. But nevertheless, the hard work that goes into it, and it takes something out of you, standing over a person who’s been killed. Standing over their body and seeing the destruction that’s happened to them in their final moments of life, an image that you never would want their family to see, but you see it. It’s in your head. And you have to touch them, and you have to move things around.

And that’s a visceral feeling. You can’t just shake that. So, we sat down and talk about these cases. It’s absolutely something that David and I don’t talk about it. It’s kind of like, “Hey, man, how do you feel?” Maybe we should, I don’t know. Maybe we should do that, but we don’t. We haven’t. But I know he’s feeling the same thing I’m feeling. How do you not after experiencing all of that for so long? For as long as we did.

ATL_Homicide on TV One
Detectives David Quinn and Vince Velazquez vi a TV One

This is the third season of ATL Homicide… what viewers can expect? 

David Quinn: This season, I think is pulse pounding, action filled, and all 100% real. And after we even watched the rough cuts of the production that’s been put together and made digitally and sent to us, we can’t believe that we actually did that. I mean, sometimes you’re blown away by the fact that you work so many homicides over your career, and then it’s put into this production, and it just really blows you away.

I’m going to tell you the truth. Once I retired fully, a year and a half ago, some of this stuff did start to wash over me. I mean, you’re not really paying attention, because you’re in the fog of war, trying to make these cases get cleared. And as you retire, and I can only speak for myself, I don’t even want to run over a squirrel now. I’m real squeamish. It’s just crazy. So, we’re just really excited about season three, because the actors that play us have stepped up their game tremendously. I think the production value is just like watching a movie. I mean, this is popcorn action right here. I think you’re really going to enjoy it.

Why do you think the show has grown with female viewers? 

Vince Valezquez: Yo, it’s the bow legs and toothpick of my partner.

David Quinn: Oh, man, please.

Vince Valezquez: Yo, he looks like he just rolled in on a stallion, two six shooters on his hip. Got the toothpick in his mouth.

And then Quinn has the Quinn-isms. The teaser for the first episode said, it looked like, what’d you say, Quinn? “Took the mask off of a Scooby Doo episode.” I mean, things like that, people love. And I think it resonates with the characters of who we really are. We are characters. When we’re working cases and when you see us sitting next to each other in the chair, we’re the same. And I think female viewers enjoy that. They see two, I’m not going to say, “Older guys.” I’m going to say mid to young, middle age guys who are somewhat still in shape, somewhat articulate and know how to put a case together.

I think that resonates with what we want to personify, and I think what a lot of people want to see, with people of color. Because in movies and shows, not all the time, you see too strong black or brown men portrayed in a positive light, as the protagonists of the story, instead of the antagonist.

How often have you been surprised by a case, specifically a killer’s motives?

David Quin: No, I guess the only case that really stands out to me, because a lot of the cases we work involve a specific motive. “I want your money. I want your car. Breaking in your house, and you surprise me. That’s why I kill you.” But towards the end of my career, which was covered in season one, we had a homeless serial killer. And Vince has worked a lot of serial killer cases in his career, but I had a serial killer that killed four different people, and it wasn’t about money. It wasn’t anything personal. It had nothing to do with any kind of domestic situation. This person was out stalking homeless people and executing them. So, that was the last case that happened back in 2015, 2014, 2015.

And that was the creepiest. I mean, there was a five hour confession to finally get it out of this young man but that one there? That stuck, and I was on the way out the door, and he left me with this serial killer. Never found out why this guy did it. It just didn’t make any sense. So, I’m left with question marks as he gets quadruple life. So, that one impacted me greatly. I still want to sit down and talk to him one more time before it’s all said and done, because the case truly changed me as I was retiring.

How about you, Vince? Do you have a case that impacted you in a similar way?

Vince Valezquez: They all impacted me, I would say, to the point where I take it with me. I know who my victims are, who they were and what they meant to their families. But what most impacted me, impacted me the most rather, is my unsolved case, which I think every detective has. And there’s one case to this day, even as a retired detective, I’m still working on it. And it’s a young girl that was killed in 1995, walking to school, 15 years old. So, that’s a case that is not resolved. It’s something that I think about. In fact, I still have her photograph up in my home office to remind me that I’m not done yet. So, everybody has a different perspective on that. Mine is this one particular unsolved case.

ATL_Homicide_301_Full Ep_06
‘ATL Homicide’ Episodic Still via TV One

Most recently, the FBI warned the public that there is more potential for violent uprisings. How can we stay safe out these streets?

Vince Valezquez: I’ll say a little bit about that. We’re in a time when you have to be hyper aware, more so than you’ve ever been. And we shouldn’t be deterred from living our lives. Go out, exercise, but be safer about it. If you were jogging at night, try to alter your times a little bit, and alter your routine, especially if you’re a young female. Don’t jog at the same time every day, because people can see that pattern. Change your time’s up. Change your routes up. Have an escape plan. Have some type of idea of what you would do if someone grabs you. Don’t wait until it happens to try to figure it out. Practice. If you’re home with your boyfriend or your husband, have him grab you from behind and figure it out. What would you do?

Practice those things that you do, and you can teach your kids to do the same thing. They take buses to school. They walk from school to home and back and forth. All these routines that we, basically we just have tunnel vision on, we’re at an unprecedented time right now, where the country is in an uprising of proportions we’ve never seen. I mean, look at what happened on January 6th.

So, I would say that it’s not business as usual. You have to think along those lines. You have to be prepared, and you have to just be hyper aware of everything and have some type of plan in your head. If you have an idea of what you would do in a situation, that will probably pop back in when that situation happens, and you fall right into it.

David Quinn: You’ve got to be aware of your surroundings. Keep your head on a swivel. This new America people are talking about, since this past summer and what happened on January 6th, this is the old America. It’s always been here. It’s just been exposed. Be aware. Protect your own at all costs. I mean, it’s okay to protect your family by any means necessary.

Black communities are trying to heal from the civil unrest of last summer? Would you sayprotecting your own’ is part of that healing process?

David Quinn: I mean, you always. And the best thing about protecting family is preparation. Just like Vince was talking earlier, it’s all about preparation, preparing your kids. I mean, I’ve raised six children, and I have four daughters. I’ve already given them the escape plan for everything they need to do. You never get in a car with anybody. I would always tell my daughters, “You never go with somebody. They’re not going to do anything good to you.” And I mapped out a basic fire drill for life for my daughters who are all grown, with one who’s a high schooler now, and they’ve had some situations. They’ve been prepared, but personally speaking, my own son was shot in October of 2020 after returning home from the military, on a robbery.

And there was actually nothing he could do, but what I told him, and that was to minimize his profile and try to get away from that situation. I mean, he received three gunshot wounds. And we got horrible police service, which is another thing, from a neighboring jurisdiction, just outside the city of Atlanta. And I’m doing right now all I can just to hold that jurisdiction’s feet to the fire, because even with my profile here in Atlanta, it meant nothing. First question I got asked was, “Was my son somewhere buying drugs?”

And see, that’s the stereotype. And so, you have to protect your children against what America is. I’m David Quinn, Atlanta ATL Homicide. And they still treated me like short sleeve Steve when it was time to investigate my son’s, he almost died. So, welcome to America. Preparation.

Lastly, do you aim to embed teachable moments within each episode on ATL Homicide

Vince Valezquez: Yeah, I would say this. Every episode, as obviously every victim’s situation is different, and there’s a story behind each victim, meaning motive, of why they were killed, not to say that they did anything that contributed to it, but there’s a lesson to be learned. And without giving a lot away per episode, I would just encourage viewers to really see that there were ways to mitigate. Some victims were, they lived the high risk lifestyle. Other victims weren’t, as we spoke about earlier, weren’t as aware of their safety as they may should have been.

So, if anyone takes from any episode anything, just really listen. Listen to what we say about the stories and the motives. And just try to think of ways. Reflect on the episode afterwards of how that victim may have done some things differently. Either disassociating with a certain group of people. If it’s drugs, getting out of the drug game, if you can do that. Changing your life, getting away from that abusive relationship, and it goes the gamut. So, there’s a lesson to be learned in every episode. You just have to pay attention.

David Quinn: I would hope that young, aspiring homicide detectives or police in general would watch the show and see how we treated the people that lived in these quote unquote marginalized neighborhoods with respect, with compassion. And we understood their situation, and time and time again, you have cops that blame the victim by not working the case, because they feel like the victim may have been culpable or involved in a lifestyle that caused his death. That’s got nothing to do with it. He had a mama. And so, we want police to watch this. It’s training films for aspiring detectives working these same crimes at some point in their careers.

TV One’s “ATL Homicide” premieres on Monday, January 25 at 9 P.M. ET/8C.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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