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Georgia woman who fell out of patrol car died of blunt force trauma to head, independent autopsy reveals

Brianna Grier, the Georgia woman who died after falling out of a patrol car last month, died of severe blunt force trauma to the head, according to a doctor who reviewed medical records at the request of the victim’s family.

Grier, 28, was having a mental health crisis when her family called for help on July 14 at their Hancock County, Georgia, home. 

Hancock County sheriff’s deputies placed Grier into a patrol car with handcuffs, and no seat belt on — and failed to close the rear passenger door before driving off. She fell from the moving vehicle and later died on July 21 after being in a coma for several days.

Brianna Grier.
Brianna Grier.Courtesy Lottie Grier

Dr. Allecia Wilson, the director of autopsy and forensic services at the University of Michigan shared the preliminary results of an independent review commissioned by Grier’s family Monday, alongside civil rights lawyer Ben Crump.

“In this case, the cause of death is consistent with the severe blunt force injury that occurred inside of the head,” she said.

Wilson it was likely that Grier hit her head on a hard object that caused her brain to move and swell.

Grier suffered two fractures, both to the left side of her head, as well as swelling of the brain, or cerebral edema, and her brain structures were compressed, according to Wilson.

Wilson showed CT scans of Grier’s brain appearing to show a scalp hemorrhage and a fracture underneath on the left side of her brain.

She noted that a hard impact to one side of the head can cause the brain to move inside of the skull and cause injury to the opposite side.

This was the case with Grier, Wilson said, pointing to a part of Grier’s brain diagonally across the fracture site. “This is a large subdural hematoma, and that’s blood that is underneath the dura on the right side of the brain.”

“In this case, these injuries are very severe and indicate a significant amount of force to cause these types of injuries,” Wilson said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Grier’s body would be taken to the GBI Crime Lab for an autopsy but those results have not been released yet.  

The GBI said the case remains under investigation and body camera footage of Grier’s encounter with deputies was released.Grier’s parents tearfully carried a photo of their daughter and Grier’s three-year-old twin girls, Maria and Mariah, at the emotional news conference. 

“My grand babies are asking me every day where’s their Momma,” Grier’s father Marvin Grier said. “And I have to send them to their grandma cause I can’t send them to their Momma.” 

“That’s why we’re here, we’re trying to get answers so we can finally tell them what happened to their Momma….so that this won’t happen anymore to any other young lady who has kids or any other parent,” he said. 

Crump said they were still seeking answers as to why Grier wasn’t secured in the patrol car with a seat belt and called for the release of any other body camera footage from that night. 

Grier’s funeral will take place Thursday at 11 a.m. at West Hunter Street Baptist Church in Atlanta. 

Marlene Lenthang

Marlene Lenthang is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.

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