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Family of Brianna Grier, Georgia woman who fell out of moving police vehicle, files wrongful death lawsuit

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(MACON, Ga.) — Family members of Brianna Grier, the Georgia woman who died last year after falling out of a moving police vehicle, said they are filing a lawsuit against the officers involved in the incident.

The complaint, which was obtained by ABC News, names Lt. Marlin Primus, Deputy Timothy Legette and Hancock County Sheriff Tomlyn Primus as defendants.

The lawsuit claims that deputies “unlawfully and willfully seized and restrained the decedent, falsely arrested the decedent, unnecessarily handcuffed the decedent, picked her up and dropped her multiple times, ignored her cries for help and deprived her of medical assistance, caused injury to her head and brain and ultimately caused her death.”

Mary Grier, Brianna Grier’s mother, spoke out at a press conference on Wednesday, saying the officers were aware of Grier’s mental health issues. “I don’t think they did her right,” she said.

According to Mary Grier, her daughter “was a good person” who struggled with her mental health and what happened to her “wasn’t her fault.”

Mary Grier said that when her granddaughters — Brianna Grier’s twin daughters — asked about their mother, “we tell them that she’s gone home to live with God.”

ABC News’ requests for comment to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office were not responded to.

ABC News’ attempts to directly reach the officers named in the lawsuit were unsuccessful. It is unclear if they have retained attorneys.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which conducted an independent investigation into the incident, closed Grier’s case last year and found that she fell out of the moving police vehicle because the door wasn’t closed properly.

Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney T. Wright Barksdale III reflected on his decision not to bring the case to a grand jury last November in an interview with Macon, Georgia, ABC affiliate WGXA, saying his decision came after his office reviewed the GBI report.

“We didn’t make a decision lightly,” he said. “There’s nothing criminal on the part of those two deputies based on the facts and evidence we have.”

ABC News has reached out to Barksdale for further comment but has not received a response.

Grier, a 28-year-old mother of two, was arrested by Primus and Legette on July 15, 2022, after Grier’s mother called 911 to report that her daughter was experiencing a mental health crisis.

Body camera footage released on July 29, 2022, by the GBI shows Grier resisting officers as they tried to put her in the patrol car. The 10-minute clip shows officers struggling to get Grier into the back seat of the police car but does not show how she ended up falling out of the moving vehicle.

A summary of the final GBI report on Grier’s death said “the only possible way Grier exited the vehicle was through an already opened, not latched, rear passenger side door at the time of arrest. It was clear from the investigation that Deputy Legette and Lt. Primus were unaware the door was not closed.” The report also said “a ‘door open’ indicator light could be seen on the cluster of the vehicle.”

A medical examiner at GBI’s Division of Forensic Sciences found that Grier’s cause of death was “blunt force head trauma” with “delayed complications” and her manner of death was ruled “accident.” An independent autopsy ordered by Grier’s family also lists Grier’s cause of death as severe blunt force injury to the head.

Barksdale told WGXA that he understands why the family would file a civil lawsuit but added that “what the community needs to understand is that I’m committed to following the law and applying the evidence and facts.”

He added that Grier’s case highlights the need for mental health care reform and “the need for more resources to be poured into this state to address those needs.”

ABC News’ Kendall Ross contributed to this report.

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