The family of Johnny Hollman announced plans to march on Atlanta City Hall from Dean Rusk Park, at noon on Saturday, Sept. 23, to demand the release of footage taken from the body camera worn by the Atlanta Police Department (APD) officer who killed their loved one.
The 62-year-old deacon was killed by 23-year-old APD officer Kiran Kimbrough on Aug. 10, during a routine traffic accident investigation. In a press release issued Aug. 11, APD said Hollman became agitated during the encounter and Kimbrough was forced to tase and restrain him, but Hollman’s daughter, Arnitra Hollman, says she was on the phone with her father at the time and listened for 17 minutes as Kimbrough escalated the situation. “Next time I heard my daddy’s voice,” Arnitra said at an Aug. 18 press conference, in reference to receiving her father’s call the night of his death, “I heard my daddy beginning for help.” Hollman’s family says he told Kimbrough, “I can’t breathe,” at least 16 times before he was killed by the officer.
APD did not show body camera footage of Hollman’s killing to his family for nearly a month after his death, finally allowing the family and their lawyer, civil rights attorney Mawuli Davis, to view the footage on Sept. 8.
A press release from attorneys representing the Hollman family described the body camera footage. “When Officer Kiran Kimbrough arrived,” attorneys said, “he decided that Deacon Hollman was at fault and issued him a traffic ticket, Deacon Hollman asked to see a sergeant. Officer Kimbrough then ignored him and told him he would take him to jail if he did not sign the ticket. Deacon Hollman told Officer Kimbrough he would sign the ticket, but the officer still grabbed him, took him to the ground, and began tasing him.” After reviewing the footage, the family demanded APD fire officer Kimbrough.
With Kimbrough still working in an administrative position in the department weeks later, the family is demanding APD make the body camera footage available to the public.
“It’s illogical to think that a deacon coming from Bible study in a car accident would end up dead. The family is calling for complete transparency so the citizens of Atlanta can see how inhumanely their father was treated and take action,” said Mawuli Davis, the family’s attorney in a written statement.
In addition to investigations by APD and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Mayor Andre Dickens ordered the city also conduct its own investigation into the killing of Hollman on Aug. 22.
While the investigations are still underway, recent updates to APD policies regarding traffic citations seemingly confirm much of the family’s account of the encounter.
APD announced the updated policies Sept. 8, the day the Hollman family was finally able to view the body camera footage. Now, when issuing a citation, officers are to inform drivers that signing the citation is not an admission of guilt and if a driver refuses to sign, APD officers will note the driver’s refusal on the signature line and issue a copy of the charges without attempting to make an arrest.
The Hollman family previously held a rally and march to demand APD allow the family to view body camera footage of the killing. Supported by activists with the Stop Cop City Movement, a multi-year protest movement against the construction of a $90 million APD training center in unincorporated DeKalb County just outside the city of Atlanta, the Hollman family rallied in front of APD headquarters Aug. 24 before marching several blocks to Atlanta City Hall. APD officers surveilled the rally from a parking garage next to APD headquarters and two dozen APD officers on bicycles arrived in a show of force as protesters marched to City Hall. Once the march arrived, APD bike officers aggressively blocked the rally from spilling out into the street for several minutes before quickly departing once the crowd began to mock the officers.
Hollman’s family says they are encouraging participants of Saturday’s upcoming march “to bring signs, banners, and wear clothing that reflects their commitment to justice.”
“My father is a true son of Atlanta,” Anitra Hollman said in a written statement. “He grew up in Bankhead Courts, and he was respected throughout our community. As a family, we called for this march because the video should be released so Atlanta can truly be transparent. We are asking for Atlanta to turn out for our family.”