Family of deacon who died during arrest in Atlanta views body camera footage

Atlanta police change traffic citation procedure after Johnny Hollman’s death
Attorney Mawuli Davis speaks outside Atlanta City Hall on Friday after the family of Johnny Hollman viewed body camera footage leading up to the 62-year-old's death Aug. 10.

Credit: Caroline Silva

Credit: Caroline Silva

Attorney Mawuli Davis speaks outside Atlanta City Hall on Friday after the family of Johnny Hollman viewed body camera footage leading up to the 62-year-old's death Aug. 10.

The family of a man who became unresponsive while being arrested after a minor car crash in Atlanta nearly a month ago is finally getting some answers.

Body camera footage of the Aug. 10 incident viewed Friday by Johnny Hollman’s family showed that the 62-year-old was tased and put into handcuffs after refusing to sign a traffic citation, family attorney Mawuli Davis said.

“This was, as long as I’ve been doing this, as senseless of a death as I’ve ever seen in the city of Atlanta. Senseless. Over a ticket,” Davis exclaimed Friday outside City Hall while surrounded by Hollman’s friends and loved ones.

At almost the same time, Atlanta police issued a news release, announcing that they are changing their policy. In the future, they will not arrest someone if they refuse to sign a ticket.

Hollman, a father of five who for 15 years served as chairman of deacons at a southwest Atlanta church, was involved in the minor crash while on his way home. He died after an encounter with Officer Kiran Kimbrough, who has been on administrative leave during the excessive force investigation that is being handled by the GBI.

The bodycam footage that Hollman’s family was invited to view Friday was not made available to the public, and authorities did not say when it would be released.

Davis, while hugging Hollman’s daughter Arnitra Fallins, said he was struck by what he saw. He is now calling for the arrest of Kimbrough, who Davis described as an “overly hyperaggressive police officer that is birthed out of a culture in Atlanta policing.”

“We’re calling on this officer to be arrested immediately and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We don’t believe there was justification for his actions,” Davis added.

According to a previously released police report, Hollman was driving his Chevrolet pickup truck north on Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard and went to make a left turn onto Cunningham Place as another driver was turning right onto Joseph E. Lowery. Hollman is accused of making the turn too sharp and striking the front of the other vehicle, the report states.

Kimbrough responded to the scene after Hollman and the other driver called 911. The officer determined that Hollman was at fault, and 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.

Kimbrough then used a Taser on him, and Hollman was handcuffed with the help of a witness. At that point, Kimbrough noticed Hollman was unresponsive, the GBI said.

The officer was hired by Atlanta police in March 2021 with no previous law enforcement experience. According to Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council records, Kimbrough has no disciplinary history.

After viewing the footage, Davis said the scenario he saw was different from what authorities have been saying. Hollman’s family and friends, who were visibly emotional upon exiting City Hall, chose not to speak about the footage.

Davis 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.”

Johnny Hollman died after a "physical struggle" with Atlanta police, the GBI said.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

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Credit: Channel 2 Action News

APD’s policy change on signing traffic tickets comes nearly three weeks after Mayor Andre Dickens demanded a review of the department’s standards and training in response to Hollman’s death.

“As a result of that review, there have been updates to the standard operating procedures of APD regarding traffic citations, to allow officers to write ‘refusal to sign’ in the signature line, rather than make an arrest,” police spokesman Sgt. John Chafee said, adding that signing a citation is not an admission of guilt, but rather an acknowledgement of it and of the court date.