Body camera footage shows police tasing death of Atlanta deacon Johnny Hollman


(ATLANTA) — The Fulton County District Attorney’s office released body camera footage on Wednesday that shows the incident that led to the tasing death of Johnny Hollman, the 62-year-old Atlanta deacon who died on Aug. 10 after he was shocked with a stun gun by an Atlanta police officer during a traffic stop.

The hour and six-minute-long video showed an argument ensuing between Hollman and now-former Atlanta Police Officer Kiran Kimbrough after Hollman refused to sign a traffic ticket saying he was at fault for the traffic accident Kimbrough was responding to.

Hollman repeatedly told Kimbrough he’d done “nothing wrong.” The officer asked Hollman to sign the ticket before he called his sergeant to the scene, also saying Hollman had to sign the ticket “or I’m gonna take you to jail.”

Hollman told Kimbrough “I didn’t do nothing wrong.”

The interaction escalated when Kimbrough attempted to arrest Hollman and the deacon resisted. The officer pinned Hollman to the ground to handcuff him. The body camera video of the seconds leading up to the incident is often covered and the details of the interaction are not clear.

The officer first activated the Taser’s Warning Arc, a setting in the taser that makes the device sound and look as if it will be fired and “may deter a subject without having to deploy a cartridge,” according to AXON’s website, the manufacturer of the taser used by Kimbrough.

While being pinned to the ground, Hollman repeatedly said “I can’t breathe.”

Moments later, Kimbrough activated his taser gun. The video appears to show Hollman becoming unresponsive almost immediately after being tased. A few minutes later, Kimbrough is seen in the video checking Hollman’s neck for a pulse.

While on his radio, Kimbrough said, “This guy’s bleeding pretty bad,” referring to Hollman. He later said that he had punched Hollman “a couple of times” when recounting what had happened.

Hollman’s family, who is set to speak out in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, has been calling for the release of the body camera footage for months amid a joint investigation into the incident by the Atlanta Police Department (APD) and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office is also investigating the incident.

“Whatever happened, they killed my daddy,” Hollman’s daughter, Arnitra Hollman, told ABC News’ Linsey Davis in an interview that aired in August.

Arnitra Hollman said that she was on the phone with her father during his interaction with the police officer and claimed that the officer was “aggressive” with her father and she later heard him say, “I can’t breathe.”

“When I got to the scene, my daddy was already dead,” she said.

“My dad has chronic asthma he’s had ever since he was a child. If he tells you he can’t breathe, you have to stop whatever you’re doing,” she added.

An autopsy conducted by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office lists Hollman’s manner of death as “homicide.” The report, a copy of which was obtained by ABC News, lists “Cardiac dysrhythmia due to use of conducted energy device in association with hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease,” as the cause of death.

A spokesperson for GBI told ABC News on Tuesday, “The GBI investigation is complete and has been given to the Fulton County DA’s Office for next steps.”

According to a release from the Atlanta Police Department, an Atlanta police officer arrived at the scene of a minor traffic accident on Aug. 10 at around 11:20 p.m. where he determined that Hollman was “at-fault” and issued him a traffic citation. Hollman refused to sign the citation, an arrestable offense at the time of the incident, according to APD.

“The driver became agitated and uncooperative. The officer attempted to take the driver into custody, but he resisted, and a struggle ensued,” the statement said. “After several minutes struggling with the driver, the officer utilized his taser and, with the help of a witness, placed him into handcuffs.”

According to police, Kimbrough then realized that Hollman had become “unresponsive” so he called emergency medical services to the scene. Hollman was then taken to Grady Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Kimbrough was initially placed on administrative leave amid an internal investigation. The APD announced on Oct. 10 that Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum “terminated Officer Kimbrough for failing to follow the department’s standard operating procedures” during Hollman’s arrest by failing to call a supervisor to the scene before the arrest for failing to sign the traffic citation.

Following the officer’s termination, Kimbrough’s attorney Lance LoRusso told the Associated Press in a statement that Kimbrough “vehemently denies any wrongdoing or policy violations.”

LoRusso told ABC News in a statement on Tuesday that Kimbrough has appealed his termination and maintained that the officer’s arrest of Hollman was “lawful.”

“The Atlanta Police investigation confirmed Officer Kimbrough deployed his city-issued TASER and used force in a manner consistent with his training and Georgia law,” LoRusso said. “Following his arrest, Officer Kimbrough made numerous efforts to secure medical evaluation for Mr. Hollman.”

According to APD, the department has reevaluated its standard of operations regarding traffic citations since Hollman’s death and changed its policy to allow officers to write “refusal to sign” on tickets, rather than make an arrest.

According to the APD, officers found a handgun and nine baggies of marijuana in Hollman’s vehicle after his death. ABC News reached out to the police department to confirm whether the handgun was legal or not, but APD did not immediately respond.

“Every single person and life in the City of Atlanta matters to me,” Schierbaum said in a statement on Oct. 10. “I understand the difficult and dangerous job that our officers do each and every day throughout the city. I do not arrive at these decisions lightly. Only after a diligent review of all of the facts, while ensuring the due process of our officers, do I arrive at my decision.”

Hollman family attorney Mawuli Davis had called for the release of the body camera footage ahead of protests in Atlanta following Hollman’s death.

He told ABC News in an August interview that he hopes the release of the footage will allow the family to “have answers.”

“This was a simple traffic accident,” Davis said at the time. “You should be able to go home after a traffic accident, you should not die out in an Atlanta street because you’re in a collision, and police are too aggressive.”

ABC News’ Ayesha Ali contributed to this report.


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