Friday March 1st, 2024 10:31AM

Family of man who died after struggle with officer sues tow truck driver they say sat on his head

By The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — The family of a Georgia church deacon who died after struggling with a police officer following a minor car crash has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a tow truck driver they say arrived during the confrontation and sat on the man's head and neck.

The lawsuit filed Monday says the officer's body camera video shows the tow truck driver straddling Johnny Hollman Sr. during the tussle Aug. 10, “appearing to sit with his full body weight” on Hollman’s head and neck.

Relatives have said Hollman, 62, was driving home from Bible study at his daughter’s house and taking dinner to his wife when he collided with another vehicle while turning across a busy street just west of downtown Atlanta.

Atlanta police Officer Kiran Kimbrough responded to the crash and he quickly decided Hollman was to blame. Hollman insisted he had done nothing wrong but Kimbrough ordered him to sign a traffic ticket. The two men began to tussle.

Kimbrough's body camera video released last month shows Hollman quickly ended up on the ground, as he continued to insist he didn’t do anything wrong. Kimbrough yells at him to sign the ticket.

Hollman repeatedly says “I can’t breathe,” and Kimbrough uses a Taser to shock him.

About 10 seconds later, a man identified in the lawsuit as the tow truck driver is seen coming to the officer's aid.

The lawsuit says the tow truck driver “immediately joined the officer” on top of Hollman’s body and “forcefully grabbed” Hollman's left arm without the officer appearing to ask for help. The suit says the driver “straddled the citizen’s head and neck, appearing to sit with his full body weight on the citizen’s head and neck.” The suit says the driver straddled Hollman’s head and neck for at least 20 seconds while handcuffs were put on Hollman.

Hollman was declared dead at a hospital.

An autopsy determined that Hollman's death was a homicide, with heart disease a contributing factor.

The other driver in the crash was not involved in the struggle.

The lawsuit accuses the tow truck driver of being negligent or reckless, and of causing or contributing to the physical injuries that Hollman suffered before dying. The family is asking for a jury trial and wants unspecified damages against the driver and S&W Services of Atlanta, his employer.

Reached by phone, a man at S&W who identified himself only as Tom and said he was a dispatcher said the company had no comment on the lawsuit.

Kimbrough was fired on Oct. 10 after Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said the officer violated department policy when he didn’t wait until a supervisor arrived to arrest Hollman. Kimbrough's attorney Lance LoRusso has said the officer did nothing wrong and has appealed his dismissal.

Hollman’s family has called for Kimbrough and the tow truck driver to be arrested and charged in Hollman’s death. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has completed its inquiry into Hollman’s death and has turned its file over to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who will decide whether to pursue charges.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online - Georgia News
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