In a world that is currently marked by political turmoil and social injustice, several instances of police brutality are now coming to light and floating to the surface, revealing deeply rooted systemic issues that demand actionable change.
Though cases of police brutality are arising from across the country, a recent case in Atlanta hits deeply close to home, reminding us all that police brutality is not just something we hear about on the news. Rather, police brutality is an issue that is consistently plaguing our society.
On April 15, 2019, a young man named Tyler Griffin was pulled over for what was referred to as a routine traffic stop for “reckless driving” by officers representing the Atlanta Police Department.
But this traffic stop was anything but routine as it quickly escalated with a pistol being pointed at Griffin, allegations of Griffin pushing an officer, and most shockingly, an officer running at Griffin, tackling him, and severely breaking Griffin’s ankle. Griffin was then forced to walk on his broken ankle, worsening the injury. The officers then spent several minutes mocking Griffin and laughing at Griffin when Griffin expressed severe pain while walking.
The arrest, attack, and subsequent mockery that forced Griffin to walk on an injured (severely broken) ankle was recorded via an officer’s body camera and was released via a CBS46’s news story.
At Butler Kahn, we stand with Tyler Griffin. Two of our attorneys, Jeb Butler and Matt Kahn, are representing Griffin and filed a police brutality case against the Atlanta Police Department, Officer Donald Vickers, and Officer Matthew Abad on Monday, June 15, 2020.
Griffin, a young, African American man told Butler Kahn that this was a situation he never expected or wanted to be in. “I don’t like public attention,” Griffin said, “but I don’t want this to happen to anyone else, so I’m telling my story.”
Griffin said he grew up believing that if “you cooperated with officers, everything would be okay.” Griffin believes that most officers are good people doing their jobs, but what happened to him is unquestionably unacceptable. His story is one that needs to be told and his case is one that needs to be heard to effect change.
“I want change,” said Griffin. “We all want change. Enough is enough. But I want peaceful change. I don’t want the pain that I’ve been going through to be avenged by pain on others. If people protect, I hope they protest peacefully,” he said.
The Traffic Stop That Turned Violent: What Happened to Tyler Griffin
When Tyler Griffin realized he was being followed, he was not aware that it was the Atlanta Police Department. According to Griffin and the body camera footage, officers in an unmarked car—without lights or sirens—began following him. In an effort to test if he was being followed, Griffin pulled into a private drive.
Police officers alleged that in the time they followed Griffin, he committed several traffic violations, alleging the reason for pulling Griffin over was Griffin’s “reckless driving.” At the time of this article’s publication, the Atlanta Police Department has not produced any dash camera video displaying the alleged traffic infractions claimed by the officers.
What happened next can be seen here.
Atlanta Police Department officers Donald Vickers and Matthew Abad were the unmarked car that followed Griffin. Abad exited the unmarked car, approached Griffin on foot, and, with pistol drawn, demanded Griffin get out of his car.
Griffin, appearing confused, reacted slowly, but eventually exited his vehicle and stood beside it. Abad grabbed Griffin’s shirt, knocking him off balance. Griffin, shrugging away from his grasp to regain balance, steadied himself. He stood there for several seconds answering a few of Officer Abad’s questions.
Some seconds later, Officer Vickers can be seen sprinting toward Griffin, aggressively tackling him, and taking him to the ground. The tackle severely broke Griffin’s ankle.
Still, officers forced Griffin to walk on his broken ankle despite shrieks of pain, panic, and begging (which is shown clearly in the bodycam footage). Officers openly mocked Griffin. Vickers said, “we’re laughing because you fell pretty hard after pushing an officer man, I find that funny man.”
Later, when Griffin cried out in pain from being forced to walk on his broken ankle, Vickers added, “you’re such a little girl right now.”
When Griffin did eventually get to the hospital for treatment, doctors had to perform an emergency surgery known as an Open Reduction Internal Fixation. Griffin’s foot was sliced open from arch to ankle in order to install a metal plate and ten screws.
The Problem: Accountability, Brutality, and Past Incidents
Unfortunately, Griffin’s experience was not a one-off—this experience is something people endure often, even in this specific circumstance. Officer Vickers has a reported history of excessive force violations.
In 2010, while off-duty from the Atlanta Police Department, Vickers was arrested for pointing a loaded assault rifle at three African American males at Underground Atlanta. In 2011, Vickers was written up for having sprayed an African American arrestee with pepper spray, then kicked him in the back several times while he was facing in the other direction.
Jeb Butler, one of the attorneys representing Griffin, recognizes that police officers on a “power trip,” like Vickers, are the problem.
“He’s supposed to protect and serve,” Butler said, “not act like he’s on WWE.”
At the time of this article’s publication, neither of Griffin’s attorneys had learned whether or not APD fired or otherwise disciplined these officers. “We requested this information over six months ago, and they’re required to provide it under Georgia’s Open Records Act,” said Kahn. “But they haven’t disclosed it.”
When a police officer swears an oath and dons a badge, they are sworn to protect citizens. But they also put on power—power that changes them from a mere citizen to someone who can put people behind bars, use force, and ensure others cannot be allowed to use force against them.
With that power comes a strict responsibility to protect, serve, and use force only when legally necessary—it is their job to bring people to justice, keep other safe, and not bring more people to harm.
Powerful, but peaceful change—it is what Tyler Griffin wants, it is what the world demands, and it is what every human being deserves. At Butler Kahn, we stand by the need for powerful, peaceful change that does more than offer thoughts, prayers, and well wishes. We are committed to standing with Tyler, to represent him in a case where he was thoroughly wronged, mistreated, and injured.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a police brutality crime, feel you need representation, or have questions about how Butler Kahn can help you, please reach out. Our experienced attorneys are well-versed in police brutality issues, are dedicated to demanding justice, and will stop at nothing to ensure that powerful, peaceful change is mandated.
We are all in this together. We are all looking for that same change that Tyler Griffin is looking for. We stand against this type of police misconduct and we stand with those that have endured it for far too long.
Need an attorney’s help? Contact Butler Kahn, use our live chat feature on our site, or give us a call at 678-940-1444. Our competent, compassionate, and highly professional team of attorneys is here to help you, demand justice, and ensure that, step-by-step, we are conquering these social injustices.