COC members bring Hollman family closer to justice after fatal police killing
By Color Of Change staff
The family of Deacon Johnny Hollman Sr. is a little closer to justice because of the help of Color Of Change members.
Thousands of COC members signed petitions demanding that officials release the police body camera video of the encounter that led to the 62-year-old church deacon’s death on Aug. 10.
Because COC members – and many others – joined with the Hollman family in pressing for transparency and accountability, the Fulton County district attorney released the video to the public on the evening of Nov. 22, the night before Thanksgiving.
The heartbreaking video shows a minor traffic accident involving Hollman suddenly escalating into a fatal assault, with Hollman being pushed to the ground by 23-year-old Officer Kiran Kimbrough, his face shoved into the asphalt and Kimbrough firing a Taser at Hollman at least twice for not signing a traffic citation.
Hollman, who was driving home from Bible study when the accident happened, tells Kimbrough initially that he won’t sign the citation because he wasn’t at fault. But Kimbrough insists that Hollman either sign the ticket or go to jail. When Hollman finally agrees to sign the ticket and reaches for it, Kimbrough grabs his arm and pushes him to the ground. He repeatedly orders Hollman to put his hands behind his back as he fires the Taser.
“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” Hollman cries out nearly a dozen times, asking for God and Jesus to help him.
Hollman then slumps and becomes unresponsive. Kimbrough uses his police radio to call for an ambulance. He tells a dispatcher that Hollman is “bleeding pretty bad.”
Hollman was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy determined that he died from cardiac dysrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm, caused by the Taser.
Kimbrough was fired in October for failing to follow police policy of having a supervisor on the scene before trying to arrest Hollman.
Atlanta police officials announced in September that, because of the encounter, the department is changing its traffic citation policy. Now, if a driver refuses to sign a ticket, officers can write “Refused to sign” rather than arresting the person.
Thanks to the help of COC members, these latest developments are steps toward justice for the Hollman family. They also signal the major impact collective voices can have in holding those in power accountable.
But the case is far from over. Hollman’s daughter, Arnitra Hollman, heard her father struggle with Kimbrough that night because her father had called her on a cellphone. The family now is asking for the Fulton County district attorney to charge Kimbrough in Hollman’s death.
“Let’s be clear: He was murdered,” Arnitra Hollman said during a news conference after the video’s release. “We are asking for the officer to be jailed and prosecuted to the fullest extent. We want to make it clear that we’re going to do something and we’re going to keep moving.”
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens has directed the Atlanta Police Department to conduct “a top-to-bottom review and evaluation of the incident and a top-to-bottom review of the department’s standard operating procedures and training curriculum.”
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which was asked by the Atlanta police to investigate the fatal incident, has completed its probe and turned over the findings to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, which will determine next steps.
Advocates standing in solidarity with the Hollman family in calling for justice and the arrest of Kimbrough have scheduled several public rallies, including one on Nov. 30 at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta.
“We are proud to have partnered with the Hollman family to push for transparency in this tragic killing,” said Michael Collins, a senior director at Color Of Change. “The work of our members and staff has helped the family in their quest for justice.”