ATLANTA — A witness tells 11Alive she sat right next to 22-year-old Nygil Cullins inside the Buckhead Fogo de Chão Wednesday before police fatally shot him.
The Atlanta Police Department said officers fired at Cullins after he shot a security guard who tried to tackle him inside the restaurant.
The witness, Amanda, said she and four other people were waiting for a table and decided to sit at the bar. Three of her friends sat on one side while she and a female friend sat next to Cullins.
"At first, the guy honestly was just quiet and he just looked really well-dressed, a really nice looking guy," Amanda told 11Alive's Hope Ford over the phone. "He did have a whole bottle of Hennessy. Somehow, he had the whole bottle."
As soon as Amanda sat down, she said Cullins' behavior started to change and escalated for several minutes.
"He's just mumbling and getting louder and louder and drinking out of the bottle and just saying absurd things. Like, 'get Roger over here, that prejudice mother******," she explained.
After a while, Amanda said she looked back at Cullins, apparently irritating him further, noting "he pushed his foot like to try to push my back with his foot."
She remembers getting nervous once she heard, "He said, 'I'm about to go off in this b****. ' So, I got up and I walked over to the host stand to the security guard and I said ‘Are you guys not gonna do anything about this guy?’ He whispered, 'He has a gun and we have to wait until the cops get here.’"
Things started to make more sense to Amanda, who until that moment didn't know workers were aware Cullins had a gun and his behavior was odd before Amanda walked in.
"The bartender was staying away from us. He was very quiet. At first, I thought he was just bad at his job, he was being really weird. But then I found out, he (Cullins) apparently bullied the guy into giving him the bottle of Hennessy," Amanda explained.
She added that a woman tried to calm Cullins down, but it didn't seem to work.
"He takes a glass full glass of drink, reaches his arm out to the side, and literally just drops it and once it shattered on the floor, that's actually the point where I was like, 'I'm done.' And I got up and went to the security guard," Amanda said.
She and her party waited by the door, as the police entered and approached Cullins.
"They tried to arrest him, it looked like immediately, and he slipped out and he went to the floor. Right after that, there was a gunshot. So, that's when I took off running," Amanda explained. "And we just started running and I lost my shoes. I couldn't run fast enough with them. And we're just looking for cover because the gunshots are going off. I probably heard 10 to 15 gunshots."
Atlanta Police said at one point, Cullins was tased but it was ineffective.
Amanda's boyfriend shared video of the aftermath of the shooting, where police were inside the restaurant, guns pointed at Cullins who laid on the ground, not moving. She's unsure of how many shots officers fired versus how many may have come from Cullins.
She added she was jumpy and suspicious of people in the day that followed the shooting.
"It changes you a bit when you see that happen. I don't know why we just didn't leave when we first got uncomfortable," she said. "But, we talked about it and from now on, in that kind of situation, we get up and walk out. We don't sit there and just hope things get better."