Body camera footage has been released showing the arrest of Brianna Grier, a 28-year-old woman who fell out of a moving police car while handcuffed and died after several days in a coma.
The footage was released by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) on Friday. Two days earlier, the agency determined that she fell out of the Hancock County sheriff’s deputy’s car after one of the doors wasn’t properly closed.
Ms Grier died on 21 July after spending six days in a coma following her arrest at her family home in Sparta, Georgia on the night between 14 and 15 July.
She had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was experiencing a mental health crisis when her family called for help.
The footage appears to show two officers carrying an upset and handcuffed Ms Grier by her arms and legs towards the police car.
One of the officers seems to take a stun gun out of a holster, activate it and hold it at his side. He doesn’t point it at Ms Grier.
“Get up”, he says.
He puts back the stun gun and the two officers pick her up and put her in the backseat of the vehicle.
According to the GBI, Ms Grier was placed in the vehicle with her hands cuffed in front of her body. No seatbelt was used.
In the footage, the back door on the driver’s side of the car appears to be shut with Ms Grier inside.
The GBI added that none of the officers, who were in separate cars, spoke to Ms Grier after she had been placed in the vehicle until she fell out.
Following Ms Grier falling out of the vehicle, the body camera footage shows the officer stopping the car, getting out and approaching Ms Grier, who at this point was lying face down in the grass on the side of the road, unresponsive.
The video shows the deputy tapping her on the side, saying that he’ll call for an ambulance. The footage also seems to show the other officer saying that Ms Grier is breathing. He tells her to sit up, but when there’s no reply from her, he brings her up to a sitting position, but she still appears unresponsive.
The passenger door of the vehicle that Ms Grier was placed in is open in the footage, prompting the other deputy to ask the first: “How’s your back door open?”
Ms Grier’s family is represented by civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, who also represented the family of George Floyd.
“Everybody knows that it is not supposed to be possible to open a police vehicle from the back seat, especially when a person is in handcuffs”, Mr Crump said in a statement this week.
“Brianna’s family had faith in law enforcement to get her the help she needed, and now they are being forced to grieve her completely unnecessary death”, he added.
The GBI has said that one of the officers had opened the side door when they were attempting to place the woman in the vehicle.
The agency added that their investigation revealed that the officer believed he had closed it.
Ms Grier’s family is questioning why she was detained. In the past when she had been struggling with her mental health, an ambulance had arrived to help, Mr Crump said.
Marvin Grier, the 28-year-old’s father, said during a press conference on Friday that “we’re trying to get answers of what really happened”.
“That was my child”, he added.
“Automotive experts and the Georgia State Patrol also assisted with tests to determine if there were possible mechanical malfunctions. In conjunction with these investigative acts, GBI agents concluded that Grier was placed in the backseat of the patrol car, handcuffed in the front of her body with no seatbelt”, the GBI statement said.
The GBI report also stated that Ms Grier refused to cooperate with the officers and while she was on the ground, she allegedly said she was going to harm herself.
“Deputies closed the rear driver’s side door … the deputy thought he closed the rear passenger side door”, the report said.
Speaking to the press on Friday, Mr Crump mentioned Ms Grier’s twin daughters, aged three.
“What this really is about is Maria and Mariah, who are going to have to grow up without their mother”, he said.
“A person having a mental health crisis … you can’t hold them accountable for their actions”, especially “if they have a documented history of mental health crises,” he added.
“Brianna’s family had faith in law enforcement to get her the help she needed, and now they are being forced to grieve her completely unnecessary death”, Mr Crump’s statement said.
Following her death on 21 July, the GBI said that “Grier was arrested at the home” and that “while deputies were taking Grier to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, Grier fell out of a patrol car and sustained significant injuries”.
She died at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta because of the injuries she sustained in the fall.
Ms Grier’s parents, Mary and Marvin Grier, were visited by Hancock County Sheriff Terrell Primus, who told them that Ms Grier had been airlifted to the Atlanta hospital after suffering a head injury.
The sheriff told the parents that Ms Grier had kicked one of the car doors open, WMAZ reported at the time. She suffered two skull fractures, leaving her in a coma.
Before her death, Ms Grier’s mother told WMAZ that if she “had known it would turn out like this, God knows I wouldn’t have called them to come and get her”.
“I broke down and cried”, Mary Grier said, referring to the moment she saw her daughter in a coma.
The 28-year-old’s father told WMAZ that they were told that she had kicked the door open and “jumped” out of the vehicle.
Mary Grier told the local station at that time that she was sceptical of that version of events.
“If she got out of the car, they had to have let her out of the car”, she said. “That’s my interpretation because in a police car you can’t open the door from the inside so it had to have been opened from the outside.”