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Georgia woman dies week after she ‘fell out’ of police car — her family wants answers

FILE: A police car from Hancock County, Georgia. Hancock County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

A Georgia woman who was in the midst of a mental health crisis has died after authorities say she “fell out” of a patrol car last week.

Brianna Grier, 28, had been in a coma since July 15 — when the incident occurred — and was pronounced dead at 1 p.m. on Thursday, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

In the press release, the bureau said that deputies of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office had been called to Grier’s home in Sparta, where they arrested her.

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“While deputies were taking Grier to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, Grier fell out of a patrol car and sustained significant injuries. She later died because of those injuries,” the statement reads.

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Grier’s mother said she was the one who called the police on her daughter in an interview with local outlet WMAZ.

“If I had known it was going to turn out like this, God knows I wouldn’t have called to come and get her,” Mary Grier said.

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Grier’s family says she came home the night between July 14 and July 15 and was having a schizophrenic episode. (Grier had previously been diagnosed with the mental illness, according to her family.) After her mother called for help, two deputies arrived at the home between 12 and 1 a.m. and put Grier in handcuffs before placing her in the back of their police cruiser.

The next day, the family was visited by Hancock County Sheriff Terrell Primus, who told them that Grier had “kicked the door out and jumped out of the car,” according to Marvin Grier, Brianna’s father.

But family members aren’t buying that story.

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“If she got out of the car, they had to let her out of the car,” Mary Grier said. “That’s my interpretation, because in a police car you can’t open the door from the inside, so it had to have been opened from the outside.”

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Geoffrey Alpert, a professor of criminal justice at the University of South Carolina, is also skeptical about the chain of events.

He wrote to NBC News that patrol cars are “ALWAYS supposed to be locked from the inside.”

“Otherwise,” he added, “prisoners would be letting themselves out all the time.”

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Marvin Grier told NBC News that the family had asked emergency services for help with their daughter’s mental health episodes in the past, but they had always sent ambulances, not police officers.

He told WMAZ that he just wants answers regarding his daughter’s death.

“I would do what any other parent would do,” Marvin Grier said. “What we’re trying to do is find answers.”

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Sheriff Primus asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to look into Grier’s death on July 15 and the investigation is ongoing, authorities say. The deputies involved in the incident have not been identified.

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WMAZ reported that Grier was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta with a fractured skull.

When Mary Grier visited her daughter in the hospital, she said she “just broke down and cried because it’s just ridiculous how she laying up there with tubes and pipes everywhere on her for no reason because it didn’t have to be that. It didn’t have to be that.”

Grier leaves behind three-year-old twin girls, Maria and Mariah.

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