An autopsy rules that an Atlanta church deacon’s death during his arrest was a homicide

Oct 8, 2023, 3:30 PM

ATLANTA (AP) — An autopsy has found that the Aug. 10 death of a 62-year-old church deacon who was electrically shocked by an Atlanta police officer was a homicide, although the medical examiner found that heart disease also contributed to his death.

Johnny Hollman became unresponsive while being arrested after a minor car crash. The officer shocked Hollman with an electrical stun gun and handcuffed him after Hollman refused to sign a traffic ticket.

The city has since changed its policy to let officers write “refusal to sign” on a traffic ticket instead of arresting someone who won’t sign. The policy requires officers to inform drivers that a signature is not an admission of guilt. It just acknowledges receipt of the ticket and court date.

The Atlanta City Council last week called on the city to release the video from the incident. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is examining the officer’s actions, has asked the Atlanta Police Department not to release the video until the state agency’s investigation is complete.

Hollman’s death has contributed to discontent with police among some Atlantans that centers on a proposal to build a public safety training center.

Medical examiner Dr. Melissa Sims-Stanley said that based on a review of the video and a conversation with a GBI investigator, she concluded that Hollman was unresponsive after he was stunned, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Arnitra Fallins, Hollman’ daughter, has said her father was driving home from buying fried chicken and an apple pie when he was involved in a collision with another vehicle. Fallins said Hollman called police to investigate the wreck, but Atlanta police say he grew agitated when police determined Hollman was at fault in the wreck and tried to issue him a citation.

When Hollman refused to sign the ticket, the officer tried to arrest him, and the officer and Hollman began to struggle physically, the GBI said. That’s when GBI says the officer, Kiran Kimbrough, shocked Hollman. Kimbrough is on administrative leave during the investigation.

Lawyers for the Hollman family say it was Kimbrough who started the struggle after Hollman asked for a police sergeant to come to the scene because Hollman disagreed with the officer finding him at fault.

“You can hear Mr. Hollman begging for him to stop,” lawyer Mawuli Davis said.

Fallins, who was on the phone with Hollman, said she rushed to the scene when she heard her father yell for help.

“You know, when you hear something, you can imagine like what’s happening,” she told WXIA-TV. “But to actually, you know, witness it you know the piece from the body cam. Now we get the results back from the autopsy. Again, it confirms what I already knew.”

Although the video hasn’t been released, it has been shown to family members. Lawyers for Hollman’s family question how releasing the video could hamper the investigation when GBI has already interviewed witnesses.

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An autopsy rules that an Atlanta church deacon’s death during his arrest was a homicide