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No indictment in death of handcuffed woman who fell from car

Patrol Car Death
Posted at 5:25 PM, Nov 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-07 17:25:48-05

ATLANTA (AP) — Prosecutors will not seek an indictment against sheriff's deputies in the death of a handcuffed Georgia woman who fell from a patrol car after the deputies failed to close the rear passenger-side door, authorities announced Monday.

Brianna Grier's family and civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, had demanded a full accounting of the Black woman's fall and subsequent death in July.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Monday that it had completed its investigation and turned the findings over to the Ocmulgee Circuit District Attorney, who decided against bringing the case to a civil or criminal grand jury.

The GBI did not believe it had probable cause to arrest the deputies, and district attorney T. Wright Barksdale III said he agreed with that assessment after reviewing the agency's investigation.

“What happened that particular night is an extreme tragedy and something that I understand that people are upset about,” he told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “Based off of my legal opinion after speaking with the GBI and after reviewing the case file, there are no criminal acts that were perpetrated by those deputies the night Ms. Grier lost her life.”

An email to an attorney for Grier's family, Ben Crump, were not immediately returned. The GBI said it had informed the family of the district attorney's decision, and Barksdale said he was in touch with an attorney for the family.

Grier, 28, suffered significant injuries on July 15 and died July 21 at an Atlanta hospital. Authorities had been called to her home in Sparta, Georgia, as she experienced a mental health crisis. Sparta is about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Atlanta.

Deputies arrested Grier and put her in the back of a patrol car to take her to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, the GBI said. She was not wearing a seatbelt and her hands were cuffed in front of her, according to investigators.

Barksdale said Monday deputies faced a “pretty hectic scene” at the home and failed to close the door to the point that it latched.

Grier fell out moments after they pulled out of her driveway and while they were traveling at a “relatively low rate of speed,” he said.

She suffered a fatal brain injury that put her in a coma until she died, Crump has said.

Crump is a national civil rights attorney who has represented the families of numerous people who have been killed by authorities, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

At a funeral service for Grier in August, Sharpton said he would seek a Justice Department review of her case if the family didn’t get answers. Grier's father, Marvin Grier, said he wanted Grier's twin daughters to know the “truth” about their mother's death.