Body camera video was released Wednesday showing the moment a former Atlanta police officer used a stun gun on Johnny Hollman, a 62-year-old church deacon who died following the Aug. 10 encounter.
The video was made public at the request of his family, who viewed it in September. Arnitra Fallins, Hollman’s daughter, previously told NBC News that the images were “very disturbing” and that she became physically ill watching them. Her father had called her during the fatal encounter.
Mayor Andre Dickens said the video would be “difficult to watch.”
In the footage, Hollman tries to explain to Officer Kiran Kimbrough that he was turning left when another vehicle hit his pickup truck. Hollman says he did nothing wrong. The situation escalated, the video shows, when Hollman initially refused to sign a citation.
A struggle ensued and Kimbrough took Hollman to the ground, used a stun gun on him then handcuffed Hollman behind his back, according to the video. Kimbrough calls for EMS when he realizes Hollman is not responding.
Hollman was later pronounced dead at the hospital. An autopsy determined the manner of death to be a homicide, with the medical examiner saying heart disease was a contributing factor.
Hollman’s family said he called police after getting into a minor traffic accident while returning home from Bible study at the home of one of his daughters.
The Atlanta Police Department said in its initial statement that Hollman became “agitated and uncooperative” when the officer discovered he was the at-fault driver and issued him a summons.
The video shows Kimbrough repeatedly asking Hollman to sign the citation. In the footage, Hollman takes out his phone. Attorney Mawuli Davis, who represents Hollman’s family, said Hollman was calling Fallins.
As Hollman appears to dial his daughter’s number, Kimbrough grabs it.
“Okay, I’ll sign the ticket,” Hollman says as a struggle ensues and Hollman is taken to the ground and placed on his stomach.
Davis alleged that Kimbrough swept the leg, knocking Hollman to the ground. This could not be seen in the video.
While Hollman is on the ground, the officer yells at him to “sign the ticket” and “put your arms behind your back.” Hollman can be heard screaming for help and repeatedly saying he couldn’t breathe.
Davis said they counted Hollman saying “I can’t breathe” up to 16 times. Fallins, who was driving to the scene, said she could hear her father screaming for help over the phone.
The video shows Kimbrough using his stun gun on Hollman, then yelling at Hollman to put his hands behind his back. Hollman said nothing and did not appear to move, the footage showed.
In the video, Kimbrough tells responding officers that he punched Hollman several times while Hollman allegedly tried to grab him.
“I took him to the ground and stuff and he started grabbing my hand like he was going to hit me, so I hit him a few times, I tased him, I put handcuffs on him.” , said the officer. “I don’t know what’s happening to him now. But he’s still breathing.”
Attorney Davis said Kimbrough “made the situation worse,” calling his actions “unreasonable and illegal.”
Kimbrough was fired by Atlanta police last month for failing to follow standard operating procedures. The department said Wednesday that a physical arrest for refusing to sign a citation must be approved by an on-site supervisor.
Following the fatal incident, the police department made several changes, including revising its standard operating procedures regarding traffic tickets and allowing officers to write “refuse to sign” instead of making an arrest, according to the mayor’s office, which said it has asked the police department to “conduct a top-to-bottom review” of the incident and its policies.
The incident remains under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.