Another day, another instance of police officers showing that, especially for Black people, refusing to immediately bend to a cop’s demands can be a death sentence.
On Wednesday, the Fulton County District Attorney’s office released body camera footage that shows what led up to the police-involved shooting of 62-year-old Johnny Hollman in Atlanta, Georgia, which occurred on August 10. The altercation began after a minor traffic accident and ended with Hollman dying in custody after he was tased, which happened after he told the arresting officer multiple times that he couldn’t breathe.
Atlanta police say Hollman was at fault regarding the minor accident, but Hollman appears to disagree and he refused to sign the citation. And that’s where things got chaotic.
From Fox 5 Atlanta:
In the video, a frustrated Hollman argues with the officer, saying he wasn’t at fault in the accident.
“You’re not going to scream at me. You understand what I’m telling you? Now you’re either going to sign the ticket or you’re going to go to jail,” Officer Kiran Kimbrough tells Hollman,
While repeating “sign the ticket,” Kimbrough tries to grab onto Hollman, leading to what appeared to be a struggle, and ends with the officer forcing the 62-year-old man to the ground.
“Why are you doing this to me, man? I’m an old man,” Hollman shouts while the officer pulls out his Taser.
“Sign the ticket,” Kimbrough shouts while sending out arcs with his Taser. “I’m going to Tase you. Put your arms behind your back now.”
A panicking Hollman then tries to turn over, telling the officer “I can’t breathe” multiple times. Kimbrough responds by pulling out his Taser again.
After a few more seconds, Kimbrough fires his Taser while repeatedly shouting “Put your hands behind your back.”
After Hollman goes silent, Kimbrough calls for medics saying “I think he passed out on me.”
“I took him to the ground and stuff. He grabbed my hand like he was going to hit me, so I punched him a couple times, Tased him, and put him in cuffs” Kimbrough told medics arriving at the scene.
For the record, it’s not technically illegal for a person to refuse to sign a traffic citation in the State of Georgia. However, if a person decides not to sign, the officer issuing the ticket is legally authorized to hand-cuff and arrest the person—which effectively makes it illegal for a person to refuse to sign a traffic citation in the State of Georgia.
But the legality of Johnny Hollman’s refusal is arguably the least concerning part of this story.
First of all, common sense should dissuade a police officer from throwing caution to the wind when physically handling an elderly civilian. Kimbrough, who is 23 years old—nearly 40 years younger than the husband, father and grandfather who died in his custody—at the very least should have had enough sense not to tase an elderly man who has just told him several times that he was having trouble breathing. (Seriously, what is it about the words “I can’t breathe” that cops’ ears appear to be immune to when said by a Black man?)
Of course, it will inevitably be argued that Holland caused his own death by getting into a physical struggle with a police officer, but it should be considered that Kimbrough’s own description of what happened arguably denotes an unjustified use of excessive force.
“I took him to the ground and stuff. He grabbed my hand like he was going to hit me, so I punched him a couple times, Tased him, and put him in cuffs,” he said.
In a perfect world, a cop who admits to punching a civilian multiple times because said civilian looked “like he was going to hit me” is a cop who just admitted to beating on a person who, in fact, did not hit him. (And that’s even setting aside the myriad of reasons a person, especially an elderly person, would grab someone’s hand during a struggle.) But in the world we live in—where cops are virtually always afforded the benefit of the doubt regardless of how seemingly avoidable an in-custody death is if the civilian didn’t immediately comply—Kimrough’s words weren’t a confession, they were what “back the blue” America will undoubtedly view as a reasonable justification.
“Deacon Hollman was a husband, father, and grandfather,” Harold W. Spence, an attorney representing Hollman’s family, wrote in a statement sent to NewsOne. “On August 10th, Deacon Johnny Hollman Sr, age 62, had just finished Bible study and was on the way home to take dinner to his wife when he was involved in a minor car accident. He called 911 and waited for over an hour for the police to arrive. When Officer Kiran Kimbrough arrived, he decided that Deacon Hollman was at fault and issued him a traffic ticket. Deacon Hollman asked to see a sergeant. Officer Kimbrough ignored him and told him he would take him to jail if he did not sign the ticket. Deacon Hollman told Officer Kimbrough he would sign the ticket, but the officer took him to the ground and began tasing him. Deacon Hollman told the officer ‘I Can’t Breathe’, fifteen times. Deacon Hollman was pronounced dead at Grady Hospital.”
According to Fox 5, Hollman’s family fought for months to get the body cam video released before the DA’s office, the GBI, and the city of Atlanta finally agreed, which they said they did in the interest of transparency—more than three months later.
Kimbrough was reportedly fired after the incident, but not for recklessly causing a 60-plus-year-old man’s death during an arguably unnecessary arrest. Instead, he was officially terminated for failing to follow the department’s procedure by waiting for a supervisor to arrive on the scene prior to physically arresting Johnny Hollman.
It’s unclear if charges will be filed against Kimbrough, or if there’s even been an investigation into whether it’s appropriate, but Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens did release a statement saying an investigation led to policy changes regarding how the Atlanta Police Department handles traffic citations. Dickens also said APD will develop new policy guidelines regarding the public release of video evidence connected to police use of force incidents.
“As Mayor, I know it is critically important for the City of Atlanta to continually assess, evaluate and adjust how our public safety departments carry out their sworn mission to serve and protect our citizens,” Dickens wrote. “When there is a tragic circumstance, we afford due process for the officers involved while also letting the evidence drive the decision. In this case, the evidence was clear regarding a violation of the department’s SOPs.”
The post 62-Year-Old Black Man Dies In Custody After Telling Atlanta Officer Who Tased Him, ‘I Can’t Breathe’ appeared first on NewsOne.
62-Year-Old Black Man Dies In Custody After Telling Atlanta Officer Who Tased Him, ‘I Can’t Breathe’ was originally published on newsone.com
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