Atlanta/ Politics & Govt
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Published on May 24, 2024
Family of Nygil Cullins Files Wrongful Death Suit Against Atlanta After 2022 Buckhead Police ShootingSource: Google Street View

Two years after a tragic confrontation took the life of 22-year-old Nygil Cullins at a Buckhead restaurant, his family is taking legal action against the City of Atlanta, marking the latest development in a case that has stirred controversy and demands for transparency. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the 20-page lawsuit alleges civil rights violations and an array of grievances including excessive force and inadequate training on the part of the Atlanta Police Department, as reported by WABE.

The legal claim also involves the restaurant Fogo de Chao, where the shooting took place, and the security company that employed the guard involved in the initial altercation with Cullins, the incident on May 18, 2022, began with a 911 call from an employee who expressed concerns about Cullins' presence—he had worked there previously—even though the APD operator did not dispatch officers because Cullins wasn't reported to display dangerous or illegal behavior. However, a subsequent call describing Cullins as armed prompted the response of officers Andrew Strutt and Alex Luebbehusen to the scene. According to the lawsuit, "The APD operator refused to dispatch any police officers to the restaurant because there was no claim or allegation that Cullins was engaged in dangerous or illegal behavior,"

As the suit outlines, what ensued was a chaotic escalation; the officers shocked Cullins with a taser despite his compliance and seated position, however a security guard named Tyler Huffman allegedly gave false information to police, asserting Cullins posed a physical threat and wrestled him to the ground—this altercation purportedly led to Cullins' firearm discharging and striking Huffman, and subsequently, to Cullins being fatally shot by the officers. This heartrending chapter added to a grim statistic, with Cullins' death being one of 112 police shootings in Georgia in 2022, nearly half being fatal many of the deceased being in the midst of a mental or emotional crisis; a detail underlined by Gerald Griggs, the NAACP President for Georgia and Atlanta chapters, who claimed Cullins suffered at least 10 gunshot wounds as reported by WABE.

In the midst of an ongoing investigation and a community seeking answers, the Fulton County District Attorney's Office has not yet fulfilled an open records request for the body camera footage from the officers involved. Mya Cullins, Nygil's mother, remains steadfast in her conviction for justice, not just for her own son, but for the many other families she regularly consoles—those who have faced similar tragedies and are united in grief and a quest for answers. "I have about 30 mothers now that I talk to on a regular basis that's crying, where the same thing happened," she told WABE in an interview. And while the case continues to unfold, with the city of Atlanta declining to comment on what it categorizes as "potential pending litigation," the pursuit for "just compensation" and accountability perservers in the wake of loss that continues to reverberate through Atlanta and beyond.