The lawyer for a Fulton County prosecutor accused of obstructing police from making an arrest at an Atlantic Station restaurant over the weekend said she was actually “trying to de-escalate the situation.”
Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Miya Griggs, 29, was arrested Friday night and charged with obstruction, simple battery and drunk and disorderly conduct.
Her lawyer, Mawuli Davis, said after speaking with Griggs, the officer and several witnesses, he concluded, “She saw someone being arrested and interrogated and didn’t think it was being handled correctly. She was just trying to say, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’”
The official reports are not yet available, but according to an account provided by an Atlanta Police Department spokesman, Griggs was arrested after she intervened as officers investigated complaints that another restaurant patron, Zachary Mitchell, had groped women at the Yard House on 19th Street.
Police responded to a dispute call sometime after 8 p.m., according to APD spokesman Carlos Campos, after an unspecified number of victims said Mitchell had “grabbed them on the buttocks.”
When the restaurant manager informed Mitchell he was being ejected from the restaurant, he “finished his beer and acted as though he was going to strike her,” the manager told police, according to Campos’ email account.
As officers tried to question Mitchell, Griggs “pushed herself between the officers and presented a Fulton County District Attorney’s Office badge” and “attempted to intervene in the questioning, and walk away with Mitchell,” Campos added.
He said that a restaurant security guard told the police officers that Griggs had flashed her ID at him and struck him in the face with it.
As the officers detained Griggs and Mitchell, 33, “both suspects began screaming obscenities at the officers in full view of the public,” according to Campos.
The alleged groping victims decided not to press charges, Campos said, but Griggs was arrested on state charges of obstruction of officers, disorderly conduct under the influence and simple battery. Mitchell was arrested on city ordinance violations of disorderly conduct under the influence, disorderly acting violent toward another person, and obstruction.
On Saturday, Griggs was released from the Fulton Count Jail on a $4,000 bond, and Mitchell was released from the Atlanta Detention Center on a $2,182 bond, according to a staffer there.
Fulton County DA Paul Howard Jr. released a statement lauding Griggs as “an outstanding employee with the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. She very quickly has progressed from her assignment in the Complaint Room to her current duties as second chair in the Trial Division. She is a soft spoken, hard-working and very intelligent employee. This incident is shocking to her colleagues and to all of those with whom she is acquainted.”
“I am in the process of reviewing the police report and associated documents related to this matter,” it continued. “Upon completion of my review, I will make a decision regarding Miya and her employment status.”
A graduate of the Florida A&M College of Law, Griggs joined the State Bar of Georgia in 2010 and worked as an associate at Atlanta’s Davis Bozeman firm before signing on with Howard’s office last September.
Firm partner Davis said Griggs called him during the incident and that he arrived at Atlantic Station before she was transported to the Fulton County Jail.
“I’ve seen it happen a million times,” Davis said. “You have interactions with the police, and unless you just flat-out walk away, you’re going to jail. She tried to engage the officers and ended up in handcuffs.”
Davis said Griggs knew Mitchell prior to the incident, but he did know how well.
Griggs was highly regarded at his firm, Davis said.
“She’s never been a disrespectful person,” Davis said. “I’ve seen her work as a defense lawyer and a prosecutor, and she’s always tried to be very fair. I think that’s what’s at the core of this incident: she saw something going on that didn’t sit well with her.”
Davis noted that Griggs’ charges were more serious than those against Mitchell, whose behavior allegedly spurred the incident.
“She ended up with the worst charges, and this was initially not even about her,” said Davis. “This has been very hard on her and her family. She’s never been in any kind of trouble before.”
The Daily Report was unable to reach Mitchell for comment, and Davis did not know whether he had retained a lawyer.