Atlanta releases body camera footage two years after fatal police shooting at Buckhead restaurant

Body camera footage shows 22-year-old Nygil Cullins eating at the bar at a Buckhead restaurant in 2022, when two Atlanta police officers approach him and eventually shoot him to death approximately 10 times. (Atlanta Police Department/Screenshot)

Over the past two years, the family of Nygil Cullins, who was shot and killed by police at a Buckhead restaurant, has questioned why authorities didn’t do more to deescalate the situation.

They say the 22-year-old Black man had mental health issues, with his mother calling 911 earlier that day for help.

Video released by the Atlanta Police Department this week is more than two hours long and combines footage from Atlanta police officers, restaurant surveillance cameras and audio from 911.

Cullins’ family has pushed for its release, including an unedited version, since the shooting in 2022 to try to bring accountability and transparency to the case. The family also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Atlanta and others involved in Cullins’ death in federal court last month.

The video begins with a restaurant employee calling 911 to say that Cullins was behaving unruly and had a gun. The employee later calls a second time.

“Is this Fogo de Chao,” the dispatcher asks.

“Yeah, I called about 10 minutes ago and now he (Cullins) went inside of the bar and started grabbing bottles,” the restaurant employee says.

The video cuts to body camera footage showing two Atlanta police officers approaching Cullins at the bar.

Cullins immediately raises his hands and drops to his knees. His gun can be seen in the front waistband of his pants, which is when one of the officers pushes Cullins onto his back and deploys his Taser.

Cullins manages to run toward the entrance. That’s when a security guard tackles him to the ground and a shot is fired.

While the video zooms in on what appears to be Cullins reaching for his gun, his family’s attorneys allege in the lawsuit it’s possible the security guard shot himself.

The family’s attorneys did not respond to a request for comment.

However, the video shows police respond by shooting Cullins approximately five times. There’s a brief pause, and then another series of shots are fired. Cullins’ hands are still up, his gun on the floor next to him.

As of Wednesday, online court records show the city of Atlanta has not responded to the lawsuit.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation — the agency that probes officer-involved shootings — said earlier this year that their findings from the day Cullins died had been turned over to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office on June 22, 2023.

WABE filed an open records request for the video in February, but the district attorney’s office said it wasn’t in its possession.

“The Office of the Fulton County District Attorney does not maintain records responsive to your request,” it stated in a May 28 email. “At this time, there are no records that are responsive to this open records request.”

No charges have been filed in this case.

Cullins was one of a record 112 civilians shot by police in Georgia in 2022.