2 Georgia Cops Fired After Assaulting Motorist
Two Gwinnett County police officers were fired after videos show them punching and kicking a young black man during a traffic stop.
The first video shows Sergeant Michael Bongiovanni sucker-punching the unarmed man in the face while his hands are in the air.
The second video shows Master Police Officer Robert McDonald kicking the handcuffed man in the head.
Via ABC News:
"The cellphone video is very disturbing and it speaks for itself," the Gwinnett County Police Department said of the first video. "The video was very crucial to the investigation and it confirmed that the force used was unnecessary and excessive."
The department added, "Robert McDonald stepped outside of the guiding principles of our agency, and as a result of his actions he was terminated less than 24 hours after the incident occurred. The actions by this former officer do not represent the officers of this department who dedicate their lives to serving the community on a daily basis."
The nearly two-minute video, taken by a witness on a cellphone, appears to show a police officer pull a driver, who is black, from his vehicle and struggle with the man before placing him on the ground and putting him in handcuffs.
Another officer is seen running over to assist and appears to stomp the handcuffed man in the face as he lays on the street. The officers then pick up the man and put him in the backseat of a police vehicle.
Ayers said he felt "mad" and "upset" when he saw the video, adding that the man was "clearly not resisting" and the video "speaks for itself."
"Trust is fragile," Ayers said, referring to relations between police and the communities they serve. "Situations like this one only makes things worse."
Sir Maejor Page, president of Black Lives Matter Greater Atlanta, said his organization has already put pressure on the Gwinnett County Police Department and will continue to do so.
"When I first saw the video, I immediately got the chills," Page told ABC News. "This is why we take to the street and we scream 'Black Lives Matter' because police officers violate us day in, day out."
A criminal arrest warrant issued Wednesday night and obtained by ABC News , that police later called into question, identifies the man as 21-year-old Demetrius Hollins of Lawrenceville. The
warrant states that Hollins "did knowingly and willfully obstruct or hinder" Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni of the Gwinnett County Police Department by "ignoring verbal commands to exit vehicle and then refusing to place hands behind back after he was told he was under arrest." The warrant further states that Hollins "did physically resist arrest."
According to the police incident report obtained by ABC News, Hollins was driving in a red Acura Integra that did not have a license plate and whose passenger side brake light was out. Hollins also changed lanes three times without a signal. The officer who pulled him over, identified in the incident report as Bongiovanni, said Hollins "began to act strange" and started yelling, "I need to call my mom" and "You have to let me go." The officer also said he smelled marijuana.
Bongiovanni said he then realized he had arrested Hollins in August 2016 for having marijuana and a loaded gun in the car. The officer said Hollins exhibited "strange behavior" during that time and he also screamed about his mother and physically resisted arrest. That's when Bongiovanni requested a backup unit, according to the incident report.
Bongiovanni said he verbally ordered Hollins to exit the car several times and threatened to use his Taser but the man refused.
"Hollins turned away from me and I feared he would reach for a weapon or try to start the vehicle and drive off. In my previous encounter, he reached for a loaded firearm that was under his seat," Bongiovanni stated in the incident report.
The officer said he then pulled Hollins out of the vehicle. Hollins put his hands up at first, but then refused to place them behind his back when the officer got out his handcuffs, the report says. Hollins "spun around and began to actively resist arrest by bending at the waist and trying to push me away," Bongiovanni stated in the incident report.
Bongiovanni said he deployed his Taser on Hollins multiple times and placed him on the ground. The officer said Hollins eventually complied and he was able to handcuff the man. That's when McDonald arrived to assist, according to the report.
Hollins had a bloody lip and nose, and he was examined by a medical unit before he was placed in the officer's patrol vehicle, according to the report.