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‘He didn’t deserve this’ Mother of man shot by Atlanta police speaks out

By Miles Montgomery and Catherine Catoura

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    ATLANTA, Georgia (WGCL) — The family of 22-year-old Atlanta man Nygil Cullins, who was shot and killed by police at the Fogo de Chão restaurant in Buckhead Wednesday night, held a press conference Thursday afternoon, speaking out about the lack of mental health training and response time in Atlanta police.

Mya Cullins called 911 pleading for EMS to respond after she says her son Nygil was having a mental health crisis, saying his death should have been prevented.

“He didn’t deserve this,” Cullins said. “It’s not right. It’s not fair. We’ve got to do better in making sure that people are professionally trained, educated, and well equipped in each county to make sure that this doesn’t keep happening. The pain that I feel is a pain I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It’s a pain that I can’t explain.”

According to the Atlanta Police Department, officers responded to an unruly patron armed with a handgun at the bar at Fogo de Chão. The officers arrived and found a 22-year-old man inside the restaurant and attempted to escort him outside but he did not comply and it escalated into a physical altercation.

APD says an officer deployed his taser but it was not effective and the man began heading toward the door of the restaurant when he was tackled to the ground by a security guard. The man then pulled out his gun and shot the security guard. At least one APD officer then fired their weapon, fatally striking Cullins.

Quentin and Mya Cullins said they were with their son earlier in the evening at his apartment and had called 911 at one point to try to get him help for the mental health crisis he was having. But before an officer arrived, Cullins had left the residence.

“I made sure I was very specific about his age, his demographic, his location his background about his mental state,” Cullins told CBS 46 News. “I waited an hour and 15 minutes passed, an hour and 20 minutes passed and he left. Two hours later the paramedics pulled up and the police pulled up. They didn’t ask what was the details, what he had on, or what was his state when he left. The paramedics took off the gloves and got back in the car, the police got back in the car and pulled off.”

Mya Cullins told CBS 46 News it was documented that her son had bipolar schizophrenia and they knew he struggled with it for years. He was hospitalized last year and in 2020. The Cullins family adds if the police had only heard their cry, their son would still be alive.

The Cullins family told CBS 46 News they learned Nygil died at the scene when they arrived.

“I have no problem with the judicial system, the police officers, my problem comes about the lack of services and resources available for mental health patients. It should be no reason if I were to ask the city of Fulton County how many vehicles they have that are assigned to individuals as a whole if there was an emergency in that county. I promise you I can count on one hand how many that is. They have nothing in place when I’m telling you that my son is hallucinating, he is at his worst state and he is in a manic phase. What services, what support, what is in place in that county and other counties for individuals like my son who needed help.”

“All I could hear is my son calling for me and I wasn’t there,” Cullins said. “Police officers were passing by, there were police officers at the light but I guess they weren’t assigned to my son. I called for help and the first responder according to the lady that was on the phone when I called said, ‘the procedure is if he’s not aggressive, the police doesn’t generally come out first, they send the paramedics.’ The paramedics and police came almost at the same time two hours later. Just imagine if I couldn’t deescalate it with my words for two hours, he could’ve done something to me or himself during that time.”

Mya says her son just recently was doing well and got his apartment.

Police say the security guard who was shot was taken to the hospital for treatment and is stable.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation will take over the investigation.

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