Atlanta officer used Taser on church deacon after he said he could not breathe, police video shows

Nov 22, 2023, 1:24 PM | Updated: 1:56 pm

ATLANTA (AP) — An Atlanta police officer responding to a minor car crash deployed a Taser on a church deacon who disregarded multiple commands to sign a traffic ticket, shocking the man after he repeatedly said he could not breathe, police body camera video released Wednesday shows.

Johnny Hollman Sr. became unresponsive during his arrest late on the night of Aug. 10 and later died. An autopsy determined the 62-year-old’s death was a homicide, with heart disease also a contributing factor, and his family has called on prosecutors to charge Officer Kiran Kimbrough with murder. An attorney for Kimbrough, who was fired, says the officer acted lawfully.

The roughly hour-long video shows Kimbrough arriving at the scene of the crash and gathering information from Hollman, the other driver and a passenger before the confrontation.

Relatives have said Hollman was driving home from Bible study at his daughter’s house and bringing dinner to his wife when he collided with another vehicle while turning across a busy street just west of downtown Atlanta.

In the video, Hollman repeatedly insists the other driver hit him, but otherwise follows Kimbrough’s orders to move his car and stay by it. The encounter escalates after Kimbrough tells Hollman he failed to turn his white Chevrolet Silverado pickup correctly and was at fault for the crash.

Hollman immediately begins protesting, saying repeatedly, “I didn’t do nothing.” Kimbrough tells Hollman he can contest the finding in court, but he needs to sign the citation. He also accuses Hollman of screaming and repeatedly warns him that he will be jailed if he doesn’t sign.

Kimbrough’s attorney Lance LoRusso said in an emailed statement Wednesday that before the officer arrived, the other parties in the collision called 911 to report Hollman was disorderly and they were concerned for their safety.

“Mr. Hollman violently and unlawfully resisted Officer Kimbrough’s lawful efforts to arrest him,” LoRusso said. “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.”

In the video, Hollman says he will sign the ticket after Kimbrough steps closer to him. Kimbrough’s body camera gets blocked, obscuring exactly what happens next, but the two men begin to struggle.

Kimbrough demands Hollman’s arm, but Hollman says his right arm hurts. Within seconds, Hollman is on the ground, saying he didn’t do anything and asking the officer why he’s doing this.

“I’m an old man. I’m an old man,” Hollman says.

Kimbrough yells at him to sign the ticket and says he is going to use his Taser on him.

“Put your hands behind your back now. Put your arms behind your back,” Kimbrough shouts before engaging his Taser in what police have said was a “warning arc.”

The tussling continues, with Kimbrough continuing to tell Hollman to put his hands behind his back and Hollman repeating over and over, “I can’t breathe.”

The officer then uses his Taser to shock Hollman — a maneuver police have called a “drive stun.”

The video also shows the aftermath of the struggle. Another first responder arrives and helps Kimbrough get handcuffs on Hollman, who is lying face down and is no longer fighting. Kimbrough rolls Hollman over, checks his pulse and tells him to sit up. But Hollman is unresponsive, lying on the ground with a bloody face.

When other officers arrive a couple of minutes later, Kimbrough explains Hollman protested when instructed to sign a ticket, resisted when told to put his hands behind his back and looked like he was going to hit the officer. Kimbrough said he punched Hollman a couple of times, stunned him and put him in handcuffs.

“I don’t know what’s going on with him now,” Kimbrough says. “He’s still breathing, though.”

The video’s release came after Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum fired Kimbrough on Oct. 10. Schierbaum said Kimbrough, who like Hollman is Black, violated department policy when he didn’t wait until a supervisor arrived to arrest Hollman.

LoRusso said Georgia law doesn’t require an officer to seek approval from a supervisor before making an arrest and said Kimbrough has appealed his firing.

Mawuli Davis, a lawyer for the family, said at a news conference Wednesday that Hollman was doing nothing wrong.

“What he was doing was he was making his case, like so many of us do when someone is going to issue us a ticket,” Davis said. He later added, “Instead of listening and being patient and using his training of de-escalation, instead this officer treated him as if he were not an elder.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has completed its inquiry into Hollman’s death and handed over its investigative file to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who will decide whether to seek charges. The district attorney’s office investigation is ongoing, and it’s not clear when that decision will be made, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Hollman’s daughter, Arnitra Hollman, said she’s grateful to Willis for releasing the video, but that’s only the first step.

“Now moving forward, we need him jailed,” she said of Kimbrough. “We need him prosecuted to the fullest extent because our father’s life means so much, not just to us but to people in the community.”

Hollman’s death has contributed to discontent with police among some Atlantans that centers on a proposal to build a large police and firefighter training facility that opponents call “Cop City.”

It also prompted Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens to instruct the police department to do a “top-to-bottom review” of its standard operating procedures and training curriculum. That review led to some changes, notably a rule change that says officers should write “refusal to sign” on a traffic ticket instead of arresting someone who won’t sign.

In a statement Wednesday, Dickens said many people, especially Hollman’s family, will find the video difficult to watch.

“I continue to extend my deepest sympathy to them and hold them close in my thoughts and prayers,” he said.

United States News

Associated Press

New Jersey man acquitted in retrial in 2014 beating death of college student from Tennessee

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey man has been acquitted in a retrial in the beating death of a college student from Tennessee a decade ago. Jurors in Middlesex County deliberated for five hours before acquitting Timothy Puskas of all charges Wednesday in the 2014 death of 22-year-old former Rutgers student William McCaw […]

57 minutes ago

Liam Lazo boards a diesel school bus near his home, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, in Virginia Beach, Va. D...

Associated Press

Tired of diesel fumes, these moms are pushing for electric school buses

Areli Sanchez’s daughter, Aida, used to be one of 20 million American kids who ride a diesel bus to school each day. Aida has asthma. When she was little, she complained about the smell and cloud of fumes on her twice-daily trip. “When she would come home from school or be on the bus, she […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Warren Buffett tells investors to ignore Wall Street pundits while paying tribute to Charlie Munger

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Warren Buffett credited his longtime partner — the late Charlie Munger — with being the architect of the Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate he’s received the credit for leading and warned shareholders in his annual letter not to listen to Wall Street pundits or financial advisors who urge them to trade often. Buffett […]

3 hours ago

FILE -Stephen Parlato of Boulder, Colo., holds a sign that reads "Hands Off Roe!!!" as abortion rig...

Associated Press

Alabama IVF ruling puts spotlight on state plans for tax breaks and child support for fetuses

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos are legally protected children is highlighting how support for the idea that a fetus should have the same rights as a person underpins far less dramatic laws and proposals from abortion foes across the U.S. Lawmakers in at least six states have […]

11 hours ago

This image provided by Tyler Watts shows Florida Man Games competitors, from left, Joshua Barr, Mic...

Associated Press

At the Florida Man Games, tank-topped teams compete at evading police, wrestling over beer

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (AP) — They rose up by the dozens from across Florida, caricatured competitors in tank tops and cutoff shorts, for a showdown that treats evading police and wrestling over beer like Olympic sports. Promoted as “the most insane athletic showdown on Earth,” the Florida Man Games poke fun at the state’s reputation […]

12 hours ago

Andie Nelson, right, embraces Brian Jaskot, both of Virginia, after their race during the 25 meter ...

Associated Press

‘Totally cold’ is not too cold for winter swimmers competing in a frozen Vermont lake

NEWPORT, Vt. (AP) — Plunging into a frozen lake and swimming laps may not be everyone’s good time but for winter swimmers who return year after year to a northern Vermont lake near the Canadian border, there’s nothing better. The 10th annual Memphremagog Winter Swimming Festival kicked off Friday with the 200-meter (218-yard) freestyle race […]

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Atlanta officer used Taser on church deacon after he said he could not breathe, police video shows