A Georgia woman who died in police custody last week after officers were called to help her in the midst of a mental health episode left behind 3-year-old twins who still don’t know they lost their mother, family members told The Daily Beast.
Brianna Marie Grier, 28, was arrested by Hancock County Sheriff’s Office deputies at her parent’s home last week, but she died before they even got her to the sheriff’s office to book her.
And the official line from the sheriff’s office—that Grier “fell out” of a patrol car after kicking open the door—only leaves more questions for her parents and siblings. She was left brain dead, and eventually taken off intubation.
Patrol cars are “ALWAYS supposed to be locked from the inside,” criminal justice expert Geoffrey Alpert told NBC News.
Neither the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office nor Sheriff Terrell Primus immediately responded to requests for comment.
According to family, Grier—usually a smart, loving family member who loved to dance, sing, eat at cookouts and spend time with her daughters—battled increasingly severe mental health issues within the last few years. She was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. And last Friday, Grier had experienced a serious episode at home.
Marvin Grier, Brianna’s father, told The Daily Beast he and his wife, Mary, had tried to reason with their daughter and calm her down. But when that didn’t work, both Brianna and her parents called the police.
Grier’s parents had needed to call the cops before, but this time was different. They said sheriff’s department deputies did not immediately call for medical help, as had previously been done—they took her in handcuffs to be arrested for intoxication without any kind of medical assessment.
“They told her they were going to detain her until the next morning when they would come up and do a 10-13 – that is to take her to a facility…to get someone to come get her from the police department to get her some help,” Marvin Grier said. “But she never made it there.”
Police claim that on her way to the sheriff’s office, Grier had kicked out the door of the cruiser and “fell out of a patrol car and sustained significant injuries,” according to a statement released by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is now heading up an inquiry into the case. “She later died because of those injuries,” the bureau said.
“At this point, it is an active investigation,” GBI public affairs director Nelly Miles confirmed by email to the Beast.
Since they were initially told of Brianna’s injuries the following morning, Lottie Grier said that they haven’t heard anything else from the police.
“I don’t want nobody to think that we just think that Sparta police is garbage because we don't, and I do appreciate what they have done to help her,” said Brianna’s sister, Lottie Grier. “But we want to know why that night was just so much different.”
The family’s frustrations didn’t stop there. After hearing from the sheriff the following morning that their daughter was hospitalized at Grady Memorial, the family said Brianna’s brother tried to stop by to check in on her.
“They had already told him that she was there but then another nurse came in to say they weren’t supposed to know she was there because she was up on an alias,” said Lottie Grier.
"They made it seem as if she was stable, but we just couldn’t see her,” she said. Then, two days later, she said, her parents received a call from the hospital with the news that Brianna had sustained multiple skull fractures.
“They didn’t even have a contact for you know her family, next of kin or whatever, they said they had to look her up on Facebook,” she said.
Representatives from Grady Memorial Hospital did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Grier leaves behind twin toddlers in the care of her grandparents, who have not yet told them about what happened to their mom.
“I told the babies that the police had to take their mama away and she needed some help,” Marvin Grier said. He said the twins have been playing like normal kids since their mother’s death, because “they don’t know.”
“You know some kids understand at an early age and some, some won’t,” he told The Daily Beast. “And we haven’t told them anything else, you know … about this situation.”