Atlanta/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on June 16, 2024
Atlanta Community Demands Justice for Nygil Cullins, Buckhead Protest Intensifies Following Video ReleaseSource: Google Street View

Protests erupted outside a Buckhead steakhouse in Atlanta, as the family and supporters of Nygil Cullins, who was shot and killed by Atlanta police in May 2020, demand justice and accountability for his death. FOX 5 Atlanta reported that amidst chants of "Justice for Nygil Cullins," traffic was blocked on Piedmont Road; the demonstration intensified days after the release of 911 calls and surveillance footage of the incident by the Atlanta Police Department (APD).

During the protest, one man was arrested for standing in the roadway and, in a separate incident, Nygil's mother, Mya Cullins, was reportedly detained. The incident involving the mother's detention was captured by Atlanta News First, which also included statements from the Georgia NAACP President Gerald Griggs about the matter. The APD, alleging that Nygil was "unruly" and resisted efforts to remove him from the restaurant, contend he fired a gun at a security guard during the incident, a claim that the family disputes.

Additional scrutiny has arisen due to the release of bodycam footage two years post the incident, presenting Cullins appearing to reach for his gun while being tased, following which, the APD's response led to Cullins being shot multiple times, which, the family and their lawyer, Leif Howard, criticize for what they describe as an unnecessary escalation of force on someone undergoing a mental health crisis. Nygil's parents remarked they had called 911 to seek help for their son's crisis but alleged that the responding services left without adequate inquiry or intervention; they opined that if their cries had been heard, their son might still be alive.

Amid the unfolding legal drama, the Cullins family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, restaurant, and others involved in Nygil's death, citing issues with how the situation was handled and the contention that Nygil was legally armed and that the gun discharged accidentally. As reported by FOX 5 Atlanta, APD Chief Darin Schierbaum stands by the officers' actions, stating that a review deemed their response as "appropriate from our vantage point," though this remains a heavily contested perspective by Cullins' family and their supporters.