New reports reveal a Georgia woman who fell out of a moving police patrol car on July 15 while handcuffed and experiencing a mental wellness break suffered two fatal fractures in her skull which caused her brain to shift in her cranium. Her family’s lawyer says she is the “Face of the mental health crisis here in Georgia.”
On Monday, Aug. 8, civil rights attorney Ben Crump shared the results of an independent preliminary analysis of Brianna Grier’s injuries. The review was conducted by Dr. Allecia Wilson, the director of autopsy and forensic services at the University of Michigan, and Roger Mitchell, chair of the department of pathology at Howard University at the request of the young mother’s parents, the Daily Beast reports.
During a news conference held in Atlanta at Mt. Zion Second Baptist Church, Wilson unpacked her findings and explained how at the time of Grier’s death, she was experiencing internal hemorrhages and swelling of the brain. The medical expert stated the trauma was so great, it shifted her brain from one side of the skull to the other.
In addition to suffering two fractures on the left side of the head, the 28-year-old also had several hemorrhages, severe cerebral edema, and compression of brain structure.
“What can sometimes happen when the brain or the head has an impact at one side, the brain can move inside of the skull, and that can cause injury directly opposite to where the impact occurs,” Wilson stated as she used her finger to trace a diagonal line across a mockup of Grier’s brain, connecting one injury to another.
“This is a large subdural hematoma, and that’s blood that is underneath the dura on the right side of the brain.”
She said, “What happens when there’s this type of impact to the head, is that the brain can start to swell. In this case, the cause of death is consistent with the severe blunt force injury that occurred to the side of the head.”
The lawyers believe the cause of the trauma was the “violent collision” of her head hitting the ground after she fell out of a moving patrol vehicle.
Despite one deputy from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department being arrested and bodycam being released to the public, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) has not yet released Grier’s official autopsy result.
Crump worries the release of the autopsy could be delayed for months and said, “We are demanding that they finish this investigation expeditiously.”
Both the footage and the arrest came after pressure from family, friends, lawyers, and other justice stakeholders rallied in public and on social media for transparency.
In the video, Deputy Timothy Legette and Sgt. Marlin Primus, the sheriff’s brother, are placing a handcuffed Grier in their vehicle after her parents called 911 because Grier was having a crisis at their home in Hancock County, some 100 miles south of Atlanta. She can be heard screaming that she will harm herself if they make her go. She later threatens to harm herself if she is taken to jail.
Eric Hertz, one of the family lawyers, submitted at the conference the HCS officers dropped her at least once before she was put in the patrol car, believing the video supports their theory that any fall could have added to the blunt force injury that took her life.
Once the woman is placed inside the car, one officer asks, “You got the other side closed?” His partner responds in the affirmative, saying simply, “Yep.”
Within 60 seconds from being taken off in the car, the officers locate Grier’s body on the ground — outside of their custody.
Grier’s parents state they were originally told she kicked the door open. However, the GBI’s report stated the door was never closed and that the woman, though handcuffed in the back, was not secured with a seatbelt.
According, to Georgia law, “adult passengers are not required to wear a seatbelt in the back seat of a passenger vehicle in Georgia,” but are encouraged to “always wear one.” A recent Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report also stated, “Rear seat passengers are three times more likely to die in a crash if they do not wear a seat belt.”
It is not clear if her being strapped in a seatbelt, would have saved her life.
The parents never wanted her to go to jail but were persuaded by the officers — who said she could have medical attention for her mental illness the next morning. Grier, who prior to her demise was struggling to cope with her schizophrenia diagnosis, had come to the house and was acting disorderly when her parents called for assistance.
It had been their experience that a trained medical professional would come and deescalate her while she was in crisis. However, the dispatchers sent officers, who questioned her about drinking and used that as a reason to arrest her.
Crump said his client could easily be the “face of the mental health crisis here in Georgia,” and wondered why criminalization was the first step taken.
Grier is survived by her parents, Marvin and Mary Grier, her 3-year-old twin daughters, and a host of friends and relatives.
They will all celebrate her life on Thursday, Aug. 11 at 11 a.m., at the West Hunter Street Baptist Church in Atlanta. According to a statement from the National Action Network, which says her death was a result of an “improper arrest during a mental health episode,” Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy.