Body camera video released in Atlanta police tasing death of deacon Johnny Hollman

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A 62-year-old Atlanta deacon died in August after an Atlanta Police Department officer hit him with a Taser and handcuffed him during a traffic stop.

For months, Johnny Hollman’s family has called for authorities to release police body camera footage of the incident. On Wednesday morning, prosecutors released the video.

The bodycam video released by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis shows the confrontation between Hollman and the officer that led to Hollman’s death.

“The video will be difficult to watch for many people, especially the family of Mr. Hollman,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said in a statement.

“I continue to extend my deepest sympathy to them and hold them close in my thoughts and prayers,” Dickens said. “We also extend our gratitude to those in the community who have embraced and supported the family during these difficult months.”

In a statement, the Atlanta Police Department said: “The goal of both the Mayor and the District Attorney is to provide transparency while recognizing that protecting the integrity of an investigation and possible subsequent prosecution may require a temporary withholding of video evidence from public release.”

Mawuli Davis, an attorney for the family of Hollman, said the family is grateful Willis “has taken this important step to ensure transparency.”

At a vigil Tuesday evening, Hollman’s daughter, Arnitra Hollman, said she saw the full body camera footage for the first time earlier in the day.

“The public should expect to see exactly what we saw. Murder! Senseless murder,” Arnitra Hollman said. “It confirmed what I already knew in my heart.”

Davis said the footage would show the public that Hollman remained peaceful during the incident.

Atlanta News First is reviewing the footage.

“He gave no violence towards this officer. He was moving in peace,” Davis said Tuesday. “We don’t want people to go back to business as usual after Thanksgiving. We want them to organize, to do what organizers do, to get politicized and get engaged. That’s the only way that this kind of atrocity can be avoided going forward.”

Davis and Hollman’s family encouraged people to respond peacefully when they see the body camera footage.

“I’m sad, I’m hurt, and again I’m angry because this is my first holiday without my father, and he should be here. He should not be dead,” Arnitra Hollman said.

On Aug. 10, Hollman allegedly refused to sign a traffic ticket, and, according to police, became “agitated and uncooperative.” The officer then shocked Hollman with a Taser and handcuffed him before noticing he was unresponsive. Hollman died after he was taken to Grady Hospital, according to the Atlanta Police Department. It happened at Cunningham Place and Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard.

Before the release of the bodycam video, Davis said in a statement that Hollman “had just finished Bible study and was on the way home to take dinner to his wife when he was involved in a minor car accident.”

Davis claims Hollman called 911 and waited for over an hour for the police to arrive. Davis said the APD officer, later identified as Kiran Kimbrough, arrived and decided Hollman was at fault and issued him a traffic ticket. Hollman then asked to see a sergeant, but Kimbrough “ignored him and told him he would take him to jail if he did not sign the ticket,” according to Davis.

Hollman told Kimbrough he would sign the ticket, but Kimbrough “grabbed him, took him to the ground,” and shocked him with his Taser, Davis claimed.

“Deacon Hollman told the officer ‘I can’t breathe’ at least 13 times,” Davis said.

Hollman had underlying conditions of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and obesity, according to an autopsy report.

“My daddy was dealing with asthma ever since he was a child,” Hollman’s daughter Anitra told Atlanta News First in August. “Ever since he was a child, he had chronic asthma, and everybody knew it. Everybody knew it. You couldn’t put him in distress. It would flare up. He can’t breathe when he says he can’t breathe, and you all have to take care of him.”

The death sparked protests across Atlanta, including a march to Atlanta City Hall on Aug. 24.

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