D.A. declines to pursue charges against officers in death of Black woman who fell out of patrol car
An investigation concluded that Brianna Grier's seat was close to the rear passenger-side door of the patrol car, which was never closed.
A Black Georgia woman died this summer after falling out of a moving Hancock County Sheriff’s Office patrol car, and prosecutors have opted not to press charges.
According to WRDW/WAGT News, Brianna Grier was arrested on July 15 following a mental health episode. Her parents had phoned area deputies to say she was behaving strangely. Six days later, the 28-year-old woman was pronounced dead, killed by significant injuries sustained from falling from the officers’ vehicle.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced Monday that Grier’s death was the subject of a closed investigation. GBI then handed the case to the Ocmulgee Circuit District Attorney’s Office, which decided not to present it to a grand jury.
“Instead of helping Brianna Grier with her mental health crisis, Hancock County Sheriff’s (GA) deputies took her into custody, let her fall out of a moving patrol vehicle, and caused her death,” civil rights attorney Ben Crump posted on Twitter Monday, according to WRDW/WAGT. “The family of Brianna’s orphaned twin girls deserve ANSWERS! Demand accountability.”
TheGrio previously reported Grier started experiencing a schizophrenic episode after coming home on Thursday, July 14, prompting her mother, Mary, to call the police for assistance.
The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office sent two deputies to the family’s home in Sparta. Between midnight and 1 a.m. on Friday, July 15, authorities arrived, put Grier in handcuffs, then placed her in their police car’s rear seat. At some point during the ride to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, she fell out of the vehicle and suffered “significant injuries.”
Following the incident, the officers who visited the family claimed Grier kicked her way out.
Grier’s mother was skeptical of the sheriff’s claims that her daughter could “kick” her way out of the police vehicle.
“If she got out the car, they had to let her out the car,” said Mary, theGrio previously reported. “That’s my interpretation, because in a police car, you can’t open the door from the inside, so it had to be opened from the outside.”
According to WRDW/WAGT, Grier died from her injuries at Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital around 1 p.m. on July 21. The GBI crime lab received her body to conduct an autopsy.
Several interviews, a review of body-camera footage, and technical inspections of the deputies’ patrol car led to the GBI’s inquiry, yielding new information on July 27.
After they took Grier into custody, the two officers attempted to place her inside their patrol cruiser via the car’s rear driver-side door. The woman, lying on the ground and refusing to get into the car, declared she would hurt herself.
Before placing Grier inside the patrol car, one deputy circled and unlocked the back passenger-side door. Both officers put her in the patrol car’s backseat on the driver’s side.
The deputies shut the driver’s side door in the back. According to the investigation, the deputy believed he had locked the rear passenger-side door.
Agents concluded that Grier’s seat was close to the patrol car’s rear passenger side door, which was never closed. Investigators claim she was not buckled in a seatbelt and handcuffed to the front of her body.
The authorities departed the area and drove a short distance. Based on body camera footage, the deputies had no further interaction with Grier after putting her in the car until she fell out of the moving vehicle.
“If I had known it was going to turn out like this,” her mother said then, according to theGrio, “God knows I wouldn’t have called to come and get her.”
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