Buckhead steakhouse 2022 shooting: APD defends response at family, friends protests

The family and friends of Nygil Cullins gathered Friday outside the Buckhead restaurant where he was killed by Atlanta police in 2022. The demonstration comes days after the Atlanta Police Department released the 911 calls and surveillance video from the incident. 

Protesters, including Cullins' family, friends, and supporters, briefly blocked traffic on Piedmont Road. Chanting "Justice for Nygil Cullins," they demanded accountability for his death. 

The body cam footage shows Cullins raising his hands when first confronted by the police. According to his family, police unnecessarily escalated the situation by using a Taser on Cullins after he went to the ground. The footage was released two years after the incident. 

During a virtual press conference earlier in the day, FOX 5 asked APD Chief Darin Schierbaum if the officers acted according to their training and protocols. Schierbaum responded, "This is a very chaotic situation with an erratic individual with a handgun in a restaurant. We have reviewed it beginning to end and we see that everything was, in fact, appropriate from our vantage point." 

APD presented a slowed-down version of the video, which appears to show Cullins reaching for his gun before being tased. The video also shows that after Cullins shot a security guard who had tackled him, officers shot Cullins again when he appeared to reach for his gun a second time. 

However, Cullins' mother, Mya Cullins, believes the police escalated the situation and created the danger. She stated, "It’s discouraging, it’s sickening, and something needs to happen," noting that her son was experiencing a mental health crisis at the time. 

Cullins' attorney James Howard agreed, saying, "the problem is [police] can create the danger...they can either deescalate the situation...or they can escalate the situation, make the person cornered, make the person scared."

The family alleges that the body cam footage was released only because they are suing the city in federal court. Chief Schierbaum denied this, saying, "This was not related to the lawsuit being filed." 

When asked then why APD waited two years to release the video, Schierbaum said, "Very recently, we entered into an agreement with the two co-investigative entities, which is the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, as well as the district attorney's office for a 60 day review. Moving forward, that agreement obviously was not in play in 2022."

Despite the justification given by APD, the family remains unconvinced and plans to continue their protests, seeking further accountability for the shooting. 

"We're not going anywhere," Mya Cullins said.

Fogo de Chão deadly shooting video released 

In the video, Cullins can be seen at the bar of Fogo De Chao in Buckhead on May 18, 2022, where he used to work. At one point, Cullins grabs a bottle of liquor from the bar. 

"We have a guy in here with a gun, and he's acting very, very weird," a 911 caller said. 

"He did not point the gun, but he's yelling at everybody," the caller added in a second call. 

Twenty-six minutes after the initial 911 call, officers responded. APD edited the video with a red circle emphasizing Cullins with the gun. The video shows officers using Tasers on Cullins. He runs, and grabs what police say is that gun. When a security guard tackles him, police say Cullins shot and wounded the guard. 


"You see him tackled, you see the gun discharge, you don't see who discharged it," Georgia NAACP President Gerald Griggs said. 

Police then opened fire. Ten gunshots can be heard and then a pause before five more are fired. 

PREVIOUS STORY: Parents of man shot, killed by Atlanta police at Buckhead restaurant demand justice

"All they had to do was go over and talk to him. They just came in there and forcibly tried to get him," Quinten said. 

"It's disgusting that they would sit and paint a picture that's still not true. A lot of the things in their initial narrative does not equate to what we saw," Nygil's mother, Mya Cullins, added. 

Nygil Cullins wrongful death lawsuit 

Last month, Cullins' family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, restaurant, and others for Nygil's death. 

Nygil's mother said he was suffering from mental health issues, and she had a facility for him to get help, but the transport they arraigned that night showed up too late. 

"How did we get to the point where Nygil is being tackled by security, how did we get to the point where he's being tazed when he didn't do anything wrong and now, he's scared, and he believes he's running for his life," Cullins family Attorney Leif Howard explained. 

PREVIOUS STORY: Family of man killed by Atlanta police at Buckhead restaurant file lawsuit

The Fulton County District Attorney's office will be the one to determine if charges will be filed. Atlanta police confirm the officers involved in this incident are still active employees with the Atlanta Police Department.