BUCKHEAD, Ga. — Ten months after a young man was shot and killed by an Atlanta Police Department officer, a crowd gathered outside the restaurant where he drew his last breath to demand more accountability.
Nygil Cullins was 22 years old when APD officers shot and killed him in May 2022. Police said Cullins shot a security guard who had tried to tackle him inside the Fogo de Chão along Piedmont Road NE.
Since the fatal shooting, Cullins' parents said the altercation should never have happened as her son's actions were preceded by a mental health episode.
Mya Cullins said last summer that she had gone to his apartment and felt he wasn't well. She and his father called police prior to him going to the steakhouse but said officers didn't show up to Cullins' apartment until two after their call.
During the protest, she said he son could have still been alive if the police only arrived sooner.
"I would've rather him been in the psychiatric hospital than outside in a body bag," she said the night of the shooting.
A crowd of a little more than a dozen people held posters and signs calling for justice for Cullins while chanting "Black Lives Matter."
What led up to Nygil Cullins' death at Fogo de Chão
Calls to 911 by Cullins' mother showed she asked for someone well-trained in mental health to respond, adding that she's a doctor and recognized her son was "going through his manic phase," according to a recording.
A customer from inside the restaurant and calls to 911 from the business offered further insight.
"We have a guy in here with a gun, and he's acting very, very weird," a man said during his first call to 911.
That same man called 911 again about 10 minutes later and sounded slightly more flustered.
“He pushed the bartender out of the way, and you know, like I said, he’s got a gun in his…uh… belt," the man said.
The caller said the man did not point the gun at anyone at the time, but he was yelling and agitated.
Police said when they arrived, they found Cullins at the bar, and he resisted them. An officer tried to stun him with a Taser, but it didn't work. Then investigators said Cullins pulled out a gun and started firing it in the restaurant, striking a security guard. Officers fired back at Cullins, killing him.
It's unclear if police realized Cullins was suffering from a mental health crisis and made the connection to the 911 call his family had made hours earlier in Midtown.
NAACP asks Justice Department to investigate APD
Following Cullins' police-shooting death, the Atlanta and Georgia chapter of the NAACP hosted a news conference raising concerns about the number of Black men shot by the APD. The organization specifically pointed to the increasing number of open investigations, cases prosecutors haven't resolved, or where the leaders believe police used excessive force and were not held accountable.
They said Cullins' was part of a growing and gross trend at APD -- and said the trend could be put to rest if the Department of Justice stepped in.