Johnny Hollman

Johnny Hollman died Aug. 10, 2023, after being tased by an Atlanta Police officer.

Credit: Photo courtesy Hollman family

The Atlanta City Council voted Monday to approve a $3.8 million settlement with the family of Johnny Hollman, a church deacon who died after being tased by a police officer during a struggle at the scene of a traffic accident.

In January, Hollman’s family filed a federal lawsuit against the city, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum, and former police Kiran Kimbrough. The family alleged Kimbrough used excessive force when he tried to get Hollman to sign a citation that said he was at fault for an Aug. 10, 2023, car crash.

The excessive force by Kimbrough violated Hollman’s constitutional rights, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

The family agreed to accept the $3.8 million settlement to drop all claims against the defendants, according to the ordinance approved by the council after a brief executive session.

Chief Schierbaum fired Kimbrough two months after Hollman’s death. An internal investigation found that Kimbrough violated standard operating procedure when he failed to have a supervisor on the scene prior to proceeding with the physical arrest after Hollman failed to sign the accident citation.  

APD also changed its policy and instructed officers not to arrest motorists for refusing to sign a traffic citation. Officers now write a person refused to sign tickets.

Body camera footage shows Kimbrough tased Hollman, 62, numerous times during the arrest despite Hollman saying over and over, “I can’t breathe.” A medical examiner ruled Hollman’s death a homicide but also said heart disease contributed to his death.

The body cam footage was released by the Fulton County District Attorney’s office after Hollman’s family urged for it to be released. The city council also approved a resolution requesting the DA’s office release the body cam footage.

The Fulton DA and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are still investigating the incident to determine if Kimbrough should face criminal charges.

“On behalf of my siblings and our entire family, we want to thank all the people across Atlanta who have supported us in our fight for justice for our father,” said Arnitra Hollman, daughter of Johnny Hollman and spokesperson for the family, in a written statement. 

“The students, clergy, organizers and artists who prayed, marched, and stood with us have been a true blessing. We are grateful that Mayor Dickens and the City Council have brought closure to this part of our fight for justice,” she said. “We will continue to demand arrests of those responsible for our father’s death.”

Harold Spence of the Dave Bozeman Johnson law firm and an attorney for the Hollman family said in a written statement the city “unquestionably did the right thing” by approving the settlement.

Muwali Davis, another attorney for the Hollman family, said in a written statement the settlement allows the family to focus on healing “from the devastating and senseless loss of their beloved father.”

He also praised the community’s support of the Hollman family.

“The people stood with this courageous family. Deacon Hollman was a son of Atlanta who loved this city, and his family has been fighting for the city to acknowledge that what happened to him should not have,” Davis said. “While this part of their struggle is coming to a close, this fight for justice will not end until criminal charges are levied.“

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Rough Draft Atlanta.