Tyler Griffin and the Butler Law Firm Demand Justice and Compensation from Atlanta PD – What You Need to Know about Civil Suits Against the Police

Published by Emma Kenfield on

Tyler Griffin and the Butler Law Firm Demand Justice and Compensation from Atlanta PD – What You Need
to Know about Civil Suits
Against the Police

On April 5, 2019, Tyler Griffin noticed an unmarked car following closely behind him. Confused and unaware that the car belonged to the Atlanta Police Department, Griffin pulled into a nearby driveway. Suddenly, all he could see was a bright light, as a man approached his driver’s side window. 

“Get out of the f***ing car!” yelled Officer Matthew Abad, pistol drawn. “Atlanta PD!” 

Finally aware of the situation, Griffin slowly and peacefully exited his vehicle, as Abad continued to raise his voice. Moments later, Officer Donald Vickers charged from Griffin’s right side and tackled him to the ground, causing a broken ankle that would need emergency surgery. 

There were no signs of provocation, no justification for such amounts of force. There was only Griffin, who, even after cooperating peacefully with police, was left writhing on the ground in agonizing pain. 

Several hours would pass before law enforcement decided to take him to the hospital in a prisoner transport van. Hours of laughing, mocking and Major Payne references were directed at Griffin’s cries for help, after the officers repeatedly forced him to walk on his broken ankle. 

This incident is not just; it is not humane, and yet, it is not unique. Tyler Griffin is one of many Black Americans who have experienced police brutality and misconduct with no accountability. Griffin wouldn’t accept that, however. 

Matt Kahn
Jeb Butler

On June 15, 2020, personal injury lawyers Matt Kahn and Jeb Butler filed a civil lawsuit in Griffin’s name against Officers Abad and Vickers for violations of his fourth and fourteenth amendment rights, on the grounds of excessive force by the police. 

Kahn answered Griffin’s initial phone call and was the first at Butler Law firm to watch the body cam footage of the incident.

It just, it made me so angry,” said Kahn. “I called Jeb right when I saw it and said ‘Jeb, you’ve gotta come see this video.’ We were just on a mission from that point.”

In a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff sues for damages in the form of monetary compensation, as opposed to punishment by incarceration in criminal suits. Butler says that what happens following the tackle, which already proves the violation of a constitutional right, is especially important in terms of damages. 

“It’s forcing Tyler to walk on the broken ankle as he screamed in pain,” said Butler. “It’s the humiliation of laughing at him, ridiculing Tyler and degrading him as he sat on the ground with his unnecessarily broken ankle. It’s refusing to call an ambulance for the man they had just injured.” 

X-Ray of Griffin's Ankle Post-Surgery

Griffin and his lawyers want to show those who’ve experienced police brutality that they too have the ability to hold law enforcement accountable. Butler says that in some communities, police brutality is tragically normalized, so those who experience it are less likely to speak up.

And that’s one aspect of what we hope to change,” Butler said. “To let people know that you don’t have to take this. You have rights, and there are people who will protect them.”

Moreover, it’s important to understand that access to a personal injury lawyer is not limited to wealthier individuals. In fact, most personal injury lawyers work off of a “contingency fee,” which means they are paid with a portion of the money recovered from the case. 

Even if the case is dismissed, or no amount of money is recovered, the injured party still pays nothing out-of-pocket. So, the key is not finding a lawyer one can afford, but rather finding one who will do a good job. 

The Butler Law firm provides a list of cases they handle on their website, including instances of police brutality, sexual assault, shootings, negligent security and motorcycle wrecks. If your case does not fit within their firm’s criteria, they promise to connect you with qualified lawyers who can help.

There is not yet a court date set for Tyler Griffin’s ongoing case. For more information, visit his page on the Butler Law firm website.

All videos and photos are courtesy of the Butler Law Firm.

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Emma Kenfield

Emma Kenfield

Emma Kenfield is an eager young writer with a taste for the unusual and a passion for the truth. She is currently a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studying media and journalism. She reads and writes poetry in her free time, collects Elvis Presley memorabilia and describes her aesthetic as “grandma-chic.” After working as a reporter for a few years, Kenfield wants to become a lawyer, practicing media and First Amendment law.

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