Georgia authorities release body camera video after woman dies following fall from patrol car

ByArtemis Moshtaghian and Justin Gamble, CNN, CNNWire
Sunday, July 31, 2022
Body cam video released in death of woman who fell from patrol car
Hancock County, Georgia authorities have released body camera footage from the night Brianna Grier died due to a fatal injury while in police custody.

Georgia authorities released body camera footage Friday of an incident from earlier this month where a mother experiencing what her family called a mental health crisis died due to a fatal injury while in police custody.

Brianna Grier, 28, was experiencing a mental health episode on July 15 when her mother called police to assist with the matter, civil rights attorney Ben Crump said at a news conference Friday.

Crump, who is representing the Grier family, said Grier had a history of mental health crises and the family had called police several times in the past.

"When they used to come out to the house they'd call an ambulance service," Grier's father Marvin Grier said. "The ambulance service would come out and they would take her to the hospital to get some help."

"But this time they only called the police, and the police didn't bring the ambulance with them, even though, Ms. Mary (Brianna's mom) clearly stated she was having an episode," Crump explained.

Crump said Hancock County Sheriff's deputies came into the home, handcuffed Grier and placed her in the back of a patrol car to take her into custody for allegedly resisting arrest.

In body camera video released by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Grier asks deputies to give her a breathalyzer test and repeatedly tells officers she is not drunk. According to a time stamp on the video, Grier was placed in the patrol car shortly before 1 a.m. on July 15.

Grier then yells to officers saying she's going to hang herself if she is placed in the car. They proceed to place her in handcuffs and attempt to place her in a squad car but when she resists further, an officer is seen unholstering his taser.

When Grier sees this, she yells at officers saying they can tase her, and that she doesn't care. The officer replies, saying he's not going to tase her.

The video shows the officer putting the Taser away and then walking away from the rear driver's side door. When the officer returns, he is seen lifting Grier off the ground and putting her in the back seat of the patrol car.

The body camera video fails to show if officers opened, closed or had any interaction with the rear passenger side door, but an officer is heard asking another officer if the door is closed.

GBI investigators concluded Wednesday that "the rear passenger side door of the patrol car, near where Grier was sitting, was never closed," according to a news release.

Less than a minute later, after the officers drive away from the Grier family home, the video shows an officer suddenly stop his vehicle and get out.

Once out of the car, the officer locates Grier laying on the side of the road, face down. Grier doesn't respond to the officer, who is tapping her side and saying her name. The officer then radios to an oncoming patrol car that is behind him that they're going to need an ambulance.

The footage does not show the moment Grier falls out of the vehicle but does show her laying face first on the ground and the rear passenger car door open.

The second officer says that Grier is still breathing. Grier never responds to the officers calling her name after falling out of the patrol vehicle. The video ends with Grier on the ground while police wait for paramedics.

Crump alleges that police didn't secure Grier in a seatbelt while she was handcuffed in the back of the police car and as a result, when the vehicle started moving, she somehow fell out of the car, landed on her head, cracked her skull and then went into a coma for six days before dying because of her injuries.

Investigators reviewed multiple body camera videos, conducted numerous interviews and conducted "mechanical tests on the patrol car" to determine "if there were possible mechanical malfunctions" to the vehicle, the GBI statement reads.

The GBI news release notes that two deputies were trying to get her into the back of the patrol car after she was arrested and put in handcuffs.

Grier told the deputies she was going to hurt herself and was on the ground refusing to get into the patrol car, according to the release.

The GBI statement said the two deputies and Grier, who was on the ground, "were at the rear driver's side door of the patrol car" when "one of the deputies walked around and opened the rear passenger side door." The same deputy quickly returned to the rear driver's side door, the GBI statement says, and both deputies put Grier into the back of the patrol car.

Deputies closed the rear driver's side door and, according to the GBI statement, "The investigation shows that the deputy thought he closed the rear passenger side door."

In the video, an officer can be seen picking Grier up and placing her in the car through the driver's side rear door.

Off camera, one of the officers is heard asking if the door on the other side is closed, to which the other officer replies yes.

Deputies left the scene of the incident and drove a short distance before Grier fell out of the moving car, according to the statement.

CNN has reached out to the Hancock County Sheriff's Department for comment but did not immediately hear back.

"I just don't understand why they couldn't put her in a seat belt why they violated so many policies to prevent anything like this from happening," Crump said.

"We loved her regardless, unconditionally. Now we got to raise these kids and tell them a story, and I'm not planning on telling no lie," Marvin Greer told reporters Friday. "I want to tell the truth, so it won't happen to nobody else."

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