Man killed at Buckhead steakhouse marks 50th police shooting in Georgia this year

Suspect shot security guard before police returned fire, officials say
A man was fatally shot by an officer after he shot a security guard at Fogo de Chao, police said.

Credit: Caroline Silva

Credit: Caroline Silva

A man was fatally shot by an officer after he shot a security guard at Fogo de Chao, police said.

Atlanta police shot and killed an “unruly” man after he shot a security guard inside a crowded, upscale Buckhead restaurant during Wednesday’s dinner rush, authorities said.

The GBI is now investigating the shooting, which occurred shortly after 7 p.m. at Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse in the 3100 block of Piedmont Road, according to department officials.

Atlanta police Deputy Chief Charles Hampton Jr. said restaurant staff called for help with handling an unruly patron, later identified as 22-year-old Nygil Cullins. Officers encountered Cullins near the bar area and tried to escort him out of the eatery, Hampton told reporters from the scene.

Cullins, a former Fogo de Chao employee who was openly carrying a handgun, resisted the officers, leading one of them to use their stun gun, which “had a negative effect on the subject,” Hampton said.

That’s when the struggle spilled toward the front doors. Cullins managed to get on his feet and tried to leave the restaurant when one of the restaurant’s security guards tackled him, the deputy chief said.

Police stand and talk Wednesday night outside Fogo de Chao, where an officer was involved in a shooting earlier in the evening.

Credit: Caroline Silva

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Credit: Caroline Silva

Cullins then pulled out a gun and fired one shot toward the guard, wounding him, according to Hampton. Officers returned fire, hitting Cullins and fatally wounding him, the GBI said. Cullins was treated by officers and emergency medical personnel but died at the scene.

The GBI did not say how many times Cullins was shot.

The security guard was taken to a hospital and was stable, the GBI confirmed in a news release Thursday. Officers recovered Cullins’ gun, Hampton said.

Cullins’ mother, Mya Speller Cullins, told Channel 2 Action News her son struggled with mental health issues and was not in his right state of mind Wednesday. Hours before the shooting, she said she called 911 to try to get him to a hospital.

Mya Speller Cullins (left) said her son Nygil Cullins struggled with mental health issues. They are shown in an undated family photo.

Credit: Family photo

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Credit: Family photo

He left home before police and paramedics arrived and ended up at the restaurant, Speller Cullins told the news station.

“I would have rather him be in a psychiatric hospital as opposed to him being outside in a body bag,” she said.

According to police, no officers were hurt and none of the other patrons inside the restaurant were injured during the incident.

“There were a lot of individuals inside the restaurant, but our officers did a great job to isolate the subject to the front of the business, where no patrons were in harm’s way,” Hampton said.

Credit: WSBTV Videos

Shooting at Fogo De Chao Steakhouse leaves one man dead, another injured

A video posted online appeared to show police tending to a victim near the restaurant’s front door as stunned patrons looked on. First responders could be seen preparing a stretcher to transport the patient while officers worked to cordon off an area near the bar with crime scene tape.

Tonjae Burnett spoke to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution while looking onto a sea of flashing blue lights and crime scene tape. A close friend of Nygil Cullins, she said they spent time “walking and laughing” as recently as late Tuesday night when they hung out into the early morning hours at Piedmont Park.

On Wednesday, Burnett said she was getting dressed to meet the man at Fogo De Chao at his invitation. By 7:45 p.m., she began getting calls that he had been shot after getting into a confrontation with staff that escalated to involve police, she said.

She came to the scene with questions for investigators.

“I understand that he had a confrontation with somebody, but why was he shot,” Burnett said with tears streaming down her face. “It’s just so unreal because I was just with him. It hasn’t even been that many hours apart.”

The incident marks the 50th officer-involved shooting investigated by the GBI this year, an increase of 19 shootings over the same time period last year.

The AJC also tracks officer-involved shootings that don’t involve the GBI, and those numbers sometimes differ from the GBI’s tally.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.