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Georgia deputies never closed patrol car door before handcuffed woman fell out and died, report says

Brianna Marie Grier, 28, was having a mental health episode on the evening of July 14 in Hancock County, and her mother had called authorities for help.

Georgia deputies failed to shut the door of a patrol car while they were taking a woman into custody this month, resulting in her falling out of the moving vehicle and dying, state officials said in a report released Wednesday.

Brianna Marie Grier, 28, was having a mental health episode on the evening of July 14, her father, Marvin Grier, told WMAZ-TV of Macon. Her mother had called authorities for help at their home in Hancock County, about 100 miles southeast of Atlanta.

Hancock County sheriff’s deputies arrived shortly afterward, handcuffed her and put her in a patrol car.

Grier fell out of the moving vehicle and sustained severe injuries. She was in a coma for several days and was pronounced dead at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta last week.

A Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe found that a deputy failed to close the rear passenger door before the car left the scene. Agents with the bureau conducted interviews, in addition to reviewing body camera video and inspecting the car.

Brianna Grier, 28, at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta after she was placed on a ventilator.
Brianna Grier, 28, at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta after she was placed on a ventilator.Courtesy Lottie Grier

Two deputies put Grier in the car with her hands cuffed in front of her body, with no seat belt, after she refused to get in, the GBI said in a statement Wednesday. She indicated to the deputies that she intended to harm herself, the statement said.

"To put Grier in the patrol car, one of the deputies walked around and opened the rear passenger side door," the GBI release said.

He then returned to the rear driver's side to help put Grier in the backseat, according to the GBI.

"The investigation shows that the deputy thought he closed the rear passenger side door," the statement said. "The deputies left the scene and drove a short distance. "

The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on the bureau's findings Thursday.

Grier’s family has said that she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and that she was on medication for the disorder but sometimes used illegal substances to cope. During previous incidents, the family said, she was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

But on the night of July 14, a police car arrived, instead.

Marvin Grier recalled that deputies said they would detain his daughter for intoxication before they got her medical help in the morning, because she told them she had been drinking.

The Hancock County Sheriff's Office has not said why Grier was being detained. The GBI statement described the incident as an arrest.

The sheriff told the family the next day that she had "kicked the door out and jumped out the car," Marvin Grier told WMAZ. But he and his wife had a hard time believing she would be able to get out of the police car herself.

Marvin and Mary Grier have retained civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who said in a statement Thursday that the couple are being forced to grieve the "unnecessary" death of their daughter.

"Brianna Grier was a beautiful young mother who should still be alive," Crump said. "It is the responsibility of law enforcement to keep everyone in their custody safe and alive, including when there is a mental health crisis."

Grier is survived by her parents and her 3-year-old twin daughters.