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Family of woman who died after falling out of patrol car in Georgia files lawsuit

Brianna Grier, 28, was having a mental health episode and was in a deputy's patrol car when she fell out as the vehicle was moving last year.

The family of a Georgia woman who died after falling out of a police car filed a lawsuit alleging gross negligence in the 2022 incident, their attorneys announced Wednesday.

Brianna Grier, 28, was having a mental health episode and was being transported by a Hancock County sheriff’s deputy when she fell out of the moving patrol car on July 15, authorities have said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation determined the deputy failed to close the rear passenger door before the car left the scene.

“This young, beautiful Black woman needed help. The police came, and put her in handcuffs,” attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the family, said at a news conference.

Brianna Grier.
Brianna Grier.Courtesy Lottie Grier

Grier was in a coma after falling out of the car, and died on July 21, a week later.

Her family had called for help at their home in Sparta, around 60 miles west of Augusta, that night and she ended up being arrested and was handcuffed and put in the back of a patrol car, according to her family and officials.

On the way to the sheriff’s office, Grier fell out of the passenger side door of the car. Body camera video released by authorities showed the reaction of a second deputy, who asked the driver, “how’s your back door open?”

No criminal charges have been filed.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, or GBI, said in November that its investigation was closed and that the Ocmulgee Circuit District Attorney declined to bring it before a grand jury.

The lawsuit announced Wednesday alleges gross negligence, excessive force, wrongful death and other claims.

It names Hancock County Sheriff Tomlyn Primus, Lt. Marlin Primus, and Deputy Timothy Legette.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, but the civil complaint does not specify an amount.

A request for comment from the sheriff's office or on its behalf through Hancock County government late Wednesday was not immediately returned.

Grier's family has said that she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and that she was on medication for the disorder. She was having a mental health episode and her mother called authorities for help at their home, her attorneys have said. In the past, an ambulance arrived, Crump said.

Grier’s mother, Mary Grier, said Wednesday that her daughter’s two children sometimes ask where their mother is. “I tell them the truth: She’s gone home to be with God,” she said.

“They knew her condition, they knew it. Because that wasn’t the first time they were coming down there,” Mary Grier said. “I don’t think they did her right. I miss my daughter."