Newly released police body camera footage is raising questions about the death of a young Georgia mother who fell out of a moving police car after a back door was never closed and her family is demanding answer
Brianna Grier, 28, suffered significant injuries after she fell out of a patrol car on July 15. She was pronounced dead about a week later at an Atlanta hospital, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Grier, a Black woman, was arrested after the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office responded to a home in Sparta, Georgia, a city about 70 miles east of Atlanta. The GBI did not say why deputies were called to the home or why Grier was arrested.
Grier was in a coma for six days before she died, civil rights attorney Ben Crump said at a Friday news conference.
Crump, who is representing her family, said the incident that led to her arrest was “not a criminal matter but a mental health issue,” questioning why Grier was arrested. He said Grier had a history of mental health crises and her family called police several times in the past regarding mental health concerns. Grier’s mother stated her daughter was having a mental health crisis before the July incident, Crump said.
“Just because you’re Black and having a mental health crisis does not mean that should equate to a death sentence,” Crump said.
Grier’s father, Marvin Grier, demanded justice for his daughter alongside other family members Friday.
“We ain’t here trying to start no problem, but we’re going to start a problem because we want to know what happened,” he said with tears in his eyes. “…That was my child.”
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Investigators conclude patrol car door was never closed
After reviewing body camera footage and conducting interviews, GBI investigators concluded that the patrol car’s rear passenger side door, where Grier was sitting, was never closed, according to a statement released Saturday. Agents also found that Grier was handcuffed and placed in the car with no seatbelt.
Automotive experts were assisting to help determine if there were possible mechanical malfunctions with the door, the GBI said.
Authorities release body camera footage
Body camera footage released by the GBI shows Grier repeatedly telling police officers that she is not drunk and asking deputies to give her a breathalyzer test.
Officers can be seen placing Grier in handcuffs and attempting to put her in a squad car. The video shows Grier crying on the ground, asking officers to “get off me.”
The GBI said Grier was on the ground and refused to get in the patrol car. The agency said she made a statement that she was going to harm herself.
The footage shows a deputy taking out his taser as Grier yells, “You can tase me. I don’t care.” The deputy tells Grier he was not going to tase her before he put it away and walked out of view.
Another deputy then can be seen lifting Grier off the ground and putting her in the back seat of the patrol car.
The body camera footage does not show if officers opened or closed the rear passenger side door. The GBI said the deputy thought he had closed the door.
The agency said deputies had no other contact with Grier between the time she was placed in the car and when she fell out.
Grier’s family demands justice
Grier’s family is demanding answers in her death, chanting “Justice for Brianna Grier” at a Friday news conference. They remembered her as a loving, caring person and mother of 3-year-old twin daughters.
“We loved her regardless, unconditionally,” her father, Marvin Grier, said. “Now we (have) to raise these kids and tell them a story, and I’m not planning on telling no lie(s). I want to tell them the truth.”
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Crump said Grier’s daughters have asked every day where their mother is.
“Shame on us if we don’t get answers for those babies,” Crump said.
“Yet again we have another African American citizen killed in just an unbelievable way while in the custody of the police,” he added.
Gerald Griggs, president of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, called on local and state authorities to address Georgia’s “police accountability and police brutality problem.”
“To the Hancock County sheriff, it’s time to be transparent,” he said. “It’s time to be accountable. To the GBI, it’s time for y’all to meet with this family. To the governor, it’s time for you to recognize, again, that Georgia has a police accountability problem.”