Georgia Sheriff and Deputy Sued by Family of Woman Who Died in Arrest  News

SPARTA, Georgia – A lawsuit has been filed in federal court against Sheriff Tomlyn Primus and two Hancock County deputies in the death of Brianna Grier, who fell from a moving squad car after her arrest on July 15, 2022.

The 28-year-old woman from Sparta had mental health problems and reportedly experienced an incident shortly before her death. She died of a brain injury two weeks later in an Atlanta hospital.

The lawsuit was officially filed May 23 in the United States District Court of the Middle District of Georgia in Macon by the estate of Brianna Marie Grier through and through her administrator Mary Grier and Brianna Grier’s minor children – twin daughters Maria Malina Grier and Mariah Selene Grier .

“This is a civil action seeking redress for deprivation of Brianna Grier’s clearly defined civil rights guaranteed by the Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and under the Wrongful Death Act of Georgia and establishing a claim to the full value of life of the deceased,” according to the court documents.

The lawsuit was filed against Sheriff Primus and his brother, Deputy Lt. Marlin Primus, and Deputy Timothy Legette submitted. It was filed by plaintiffs’ attorneys, Eric J, Hertz and Jeffrey E. Gewirtz, both affiliated with the law firm of Benjamin Crump and Associates. The law enforcement officers are all being sued both personally and in their official capacity.

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs allege that the defendants violated Brianna Grier’s constitutional rights and unlawfully and willfully seized and detained the deceased in accordance with the US Constitution and the laws of Georgia. They also allege that Brianna Grier was falsely arrested, unnecessarily handcuffed, picked up and dropped multiple times. They also claim that her cries for help were ignored, she was deprived of medical care and suffered head and brain injuries that resulted in her death. In addition, plaintiffs’ attorneys allege that the police officers named in the lawsuit misrepresented the facts and defamed Brianna Grier.

“At all times named in this complaint, the defendants acted together and consensually,” the complaint reads. “Each defendant had a duty and an opportunity to protect the deceased from the wrongful acts of the other defendants, but each defendant failed and refused to comply with that duty, leading to proximity to the violations at issue here.”

The plaintiffs’ attorneys said that Grier weighed only 115 pounds and was not armed with any weapon and therefore posed no threat to the safety of officers or others at the time of her detention at her parents’ home.

The attorneys also allege that Lt. Primus and Deputy Legette both knew of Grier’s mental history as being diagnosed with schizophrenia. They also say officers knew she had an acute mental health attack on July 15, 2022.

At the time, Grier had visited her then three-year-old twin daughters. Her parents had custody of the children.

“MS. Grier himself contacted 911 by phone,” the attorneys said. “MS. Grier told 911 that she was having an anxiety attack and needed her medication. Ms. Grier’s mother (Mary) also called 911 and asked for psychological help for her daughter.”

Although Lt. Primus was aware of Grier’s mental health condition, upon arriving at the Grier residence he claimed he smelt alcohol on Brianna and said he would arrest her for being intoxicated in public, according to plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Plaintiff’s attorneys further allege that the defendants, individually and collectively, “engaged in outrageous behavior recklessly and/or with intent to cause severe pain and emotional distress to Ms. Grier.”

Specifically, the attorneys allege that Sheriff Primus and his deputies breached their duties to Grier by failing to exercise reasonable due diligence in training staff on how to respond to and assist individuals who are experiencing an acute mental health crisis condition.

“The conduct of the defendant officers, as described herein, willfully and wrongly restricted Ms. Grier’s freedom of movement and liberty without consent, and Grier suffered distress and was harmed thereby,” plaintiffs’ attorneys said.

A lawsuit is only one side of a lawsuit. Defendants’ attorneys have not yet filed comment on the plaintiffs’ allegations.