As part of GBI probe, state agency releases 10-minute video clip of interaction with woman who died days later at Atlanta hospital
On a day in which distraught family members demanded answers, the GBI on Friday released body camera footage showing two Hancock County deputies’ encounter earlier this month with a Middle Georgia woman who later died.
Brianna Marie Grier was in police custody when she fell from a moving patrol vehicle early the morning of July 15. The 28-year-old Sparta woman sustained serious injuries and was flown to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where she died six days later.
The GBI is investigating the incident and released a report this week indicating deputies failed to properly close the door out of which Grier ultimately fell.
The report also said the two Hancock County law enforcement officers failed to buckle Grier in with a seat belt before transporting her to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office.
The GBI released a 10-minute video clip, which showed two deputies trying to force a combative Grier into the backseat, then the immediate aftermath when she fell out of the cruiser.
The deputies were identified as Lt. Marlin Primus and Deputy Timothy Legette, a GBI spokesperson confirmed Saturday. Primus, who identified himself to Grier at one point during the footage, is longtime Hancock County Sheriff Tomlyn “Terrell” Primus’ brother, according to the state agency.
Grier’s family hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who held a news conference with her mother and father Friday morning in Decatur. Loved ones indicate Grier cracked her skull during the fall and sustained a “fatal brain injury.”
Family members announced that they plan to have an independent autopsy performed on Grier. The GBI performed the official autopsy. An agency spokesperson said Saturday those results are pending.
“Nobody believes what the sheriff’s department is saying. It doesn’t add up,” Crump said. “Why is it that these police officers, if the doors were not closed, wouldn’t have heard some alert? Something to tell them that the door wasn’t properly closed.”
Editor’s note: Readers might find parts of this body camera footage to be disturbing and intense.
Grier’s father, Marvin, said he and his wife called 911 for help because Brianna was in the throes of a mental health crisis. He said paramedics and an ambulance were the usual response during Grier’s prior episodes. This time, law enforcement officers showed up to the family’s house and arrested her.
The video released by the GBI begins with Grier sitting on the ground in the driveway outside the residence between the two deputies.
“I’m not drunk, I haven’t had anything to drink,” she insisted as Primus said he could smell alcohol on her breath. She asked them to give her a Breathalyzer test.
The deputy at one point suggested Grier was being arrested for public drunkenness, but they never read Grier her Miranda rights during the video clip.
Grier screamed, cried, made several threats to kill herself once she reached the jail, and refused to get in the squad car during the video.
She yelled “get off me” when the deputies picked her up and carried her to Legette’s patrol car.
Primus went to the passenger’s side of the cruiser at one point as they struggled to get her in the car. He came back to the driver’s side 20 seconds later, the video showed.
Primus pulled out his stun gun at that point and ordered Grier to get off the ground. She remained defiant and yelled “I don’t care” over and over.
It proved to be an empty bluff from the deputy, who quickly reholstered his stun gun and told Grier “ain’t nobody gonna tase you.”
The two deputies picked up Grier off the ground moments later and placed her in the backseat, then slammed the driver’s-side door shut.
According to GBI investigators, Primus opened the rear passenger’s side while he was on that side of the vehicle and forgot to close it. That crucial detail was not seen in the video that state investigators released Friday. Legette never went to the passenger’s side of his vehicle and GBI officials said Primus was not wearing a bodycam the night of the incident.
The deputy could be heard asking Primus if he’d closed the passenger’s-side door. Primus said he did and told Legette to keep the dome light on in his vehicle so he could watch Grier during the drive.
The officers spent a few minutes searching the driveway for a Bluetooth earpiece Legette said he lost during the arrest. Legette then began the four-mile drive to the sheriff’s office. About 30 seconds later, he stopped his car suddenly and jumped out. Grier was lying in the grass along the roadside a few yards behind the car. She was unresponsive.
According to the video, the back door was completely ajar by the time Legette got out and rushed to tend to Grier.
Primus, who followed behind Legette in a different vehicle during the transport, was incredulous when he pulled up.
“How’s your back door open?” he asked.
The two deputies initially speculated that Grier managed to open the door herself and “jumped out of the vehicle,” which is what Legette originally radioed to dispatchers when he called for an ambulance. In a GBI document released Monday, the narrative is described this way: “Grier exited the backseat of the vehicle.”
In a statement Friday, GBI officials said they’ve met in person with family members several times during the course of the investigation, despite media reports to the contrary. Investigators also refuted reports that the GBI has released a 90-page report detailing previous encounters law enforcement has had with Grier.
“We have only provided investigative updates on this case as we’re working to learn what happened,” the statement said.