On the eve of his trial, Robert Bivines’ fate could lie soley in the hands of a judge after attorney Jackie Patterson filed an immunity motion Friday. 
Photo: Atlanta police
Photo: Atlanta police

Defense: Uber Eats driver accused of killing Morehouse grad shot in self-defense

The attorney for an Uber Eats driver accused of killing a customer wants a judge to throw out the charges against his client.  

Robert Bivines’ attorney filed a request for an immunity hearing, allowing a judge to decide if his client acted in self-defense when he allegedly killed one of his customers in February. If the judge agrees, Bivines could avoid a jury trial and possibly have his charges dropped, attorney Jackie Patterson said. 

Bivines trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday in Fulton County Superior Court with jury selection. The request was filed Friday afternoon by Patterson. The court was closed Monday for Veterans Day.

Atlanta police said Bivines fatally shot Morehouse graduate Ryan Thornton following an altercation between the two outside Thornton’s Buckhead condominiums in February. 

“The case would be the equivalent of being found not guilty should the judge find he was acting in self-defense,” Patterson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a phone interview Monday. Patterson has long claimed his client acted in self-defense the night of the shooing. 

According to the immunity motion, Bivines was fearful for his life as Thornton approached his car and said “I’m going to (expletive) you up.” It is not known if Thornton had a weapon on him at the time of the shooting. 

Should the judge deny that Bivines acted in self-defense, Patterson said he’ll still argue the “Stand Your Ground” law in court.  Jury selection would also begin immediately after the hearing Tuesday.


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According to Atlanta police, Bivines, 36, and Thornton, 30, were seen on surveillance video arguing outside after Bivines dropped off Thornton’s food Feb. 17. Bivines fired four shots from his white Volkswagen Beetle before leaving the scene, according to police. 

Patterson has said the surveillance video doesn’t tell the entire story and previously alleged Thornton was not happy about the delivery time,  threatened Bivines and motioned toward his pockets.

Thornton graduated from Morehouse in May 2017 with a political science degree and had recently started a new job, a spokeswoman for the school said in a previous statement. 

Before the murder charge, Bivines’ record included minor traffic violations and a 2010 battery charge in DeKalb County. In that case, Bivines, then 28, punched his brother Kenya in the forehead with brass knuckles and pleaded guilty.

Patterson said his client has been biding time in jail since his arrest, but maintains his self-defense claims. 

“He’s prepared for the fight of his life,” he said. 


Previous coverage:

Uber Eats driver faces murder charge in Buckhead shooting Ryan Thornton, 30, was fatally shot Saturday minutes after he received his meal, Atlanta police said Monday. Officials say the driver, 36-year-old Robert Bivines, shot Thornton multiple times outside a Buckhead apartment complex and left the scene. Thornton was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he died. Bivines turned himself in around 3 p.m. Monday. He will be taken to the Fulton County jail. Atlanta police spokeswoman Stephanie Brown said