Autopsy: Taser, heart disease caused death of deacon arrested by Atlanta police

Johnny Hollman died Aug. 10 after a minor car crash in southwest Atlanta.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Johnny Hollman died Aug. 10 after a minor car crash in southwest Atlanta.

A 62-year-old church deacon who died after being stunned by an Atlanta police officer had a history of heart disease that also contributed to his death, a recently released autopsy report reveals.

Johnny Hollman became unresponsive while he was being arrested after a minor car crash Aug. 10 in southwest Atlanta. He was stunned with a Taser and put into handcuffs after refusing to sign a traffic citation.

Hollman died from cardiac dysrhythmia, or an abnormal heart rhythm, due to the use of the stun gun in association with heart disease, according to the autopsy report released by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office. The manner of death has been ruled a homicide, according to the report.

Hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases, which are caused by chronic high blood pressure and a buildup of plaque, respectively, were among the primary factors that contributed to his death, medical examiner Melissa Sims-Stanley said in her report. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and obesity were listed as other contributing factors.

Before drawing her conclusions, Sims-Stanley said she spoke with the GBI investigator and reviewed body camera footage, which police have shown to the Hollman family but not made public.

“Based on my review and interpretation of the video, Mr. Hollman is unresponsive from the time that the energy device (Taser) is deployed,” she said in the report. “At no time is neck compression used, and based on the angle of the video, compression of the torso is not identified.”

Hollman, a father of five who for 15 years served as chairman of deacons at a southwest Atlanta church, was involved in the crash with another vehicle while on his way home. The officer who confronted him, Kiran Kimbrough, has been on administrative leave during the GBI’s excessive force investigation.

Kimbrough responded to the scene and determined Hollman was at fault. Officials said he became agitated when Kimbrough tried to issue him a citation. The GBI described him as “non-compliant” and said a physical struggle ensued as he was being taken into custody.

Hollman was handcuffed with the help of a witness after being Tased. At that point, Kimbrough noticed Hollman was unresponsive, the GBI said.

Due to the circumstances that led to Hollman’s death, the Atlanta Police Department announced a policy change in early September. They will no longer arrest someone if they refuse to sign a ticket.

Family attorney Mawuli Davis previously said the scenario he saw in the bodycam footage was different from the GBI’s account. He explained that Hollman tried to have a conversation with Kimbrough after the ticket was issued and that the man asked for a police sergeant to come to the scene “because he disagreed with this officer’s assessment of who was at fault.”

At that point, Davis said Kimbrough told Hollman he was going to arrest him for not signing the ticket.

“As he attempts to reach out to sign the ticket, the officer grabs him by the arm and he begins to put him in custody and take him to the ground,” Davis stated. “And you can hear Mr. Hollman begging for him to stop.”

Hollman’s truck, which was impounded after the incident, contained nine bags of marijuana, about 28 grams of an unknown substance, 20 clear bags, a scale, a gun and other personal items, according to the police report. The document does not state if a DUI test was performed at the scene or if Hollman appeared to be under the influence.

Davis said the gun found in the vehicle did not belong to Hollman, but instead to one of his grandsons. The attorney added that Hollman shared the vehicle with multiple people in his family, and the drugs seized were not his and have “nothing to do with the officer tasing him, ultimately leading to his death.”

The GBI has asked the Atlanta Police Department not to release the bodycam video until the state agency’s investigation is complete. Despite this, city council members on Monday passed a resolution unanimously urging the mayor’s office and the police department to release the footage.