Two Georgia officers were fired on Friday after a disturbing video allegedly depicts a handcuffed 21-year-old man being kicked and punched during a routine traffic stop, according to WHAS 11.
A cellphone video from a witness captures the horrors of Robert McDonald, 25,–who arrived at a traffic stop as a backup officer on Wednesday, April 12 in Lawrenceville—purportedly kicking a man, Demetrius Hollins, on his head as he lay handcuffed on the ground.
Another video of the episode was shared online just hours later from another cellphone, which allegedly shows 41-year-old Sgt. Michael F. Bongiovanni punching Hollins, a college student, in the face after he exits his vehicle with his hands in the air.
“I was actually trying to get to the camera app because I actually kind of had an encounter,” said Hollins, who was subsequently arrested for “obstruction of a law enforcement officer, failure to signal, having a suspended or revoked registration, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and driving with a suspended or revoked license,” and he was released on a $7,500 bond.
“With the particular police officer before and he charged me with the same charges as he charged me with yesterday. He started shoving me in my car and telling me that I was never going to have a video that I was never going to make the phone call to my mom.”
He added, “When I had my hands up, that’s when he punched me in the face.”
In an incident report, Bongiovanni wrote that Hollins was driving a red Acura with no license, a broken brake light, and he “switched lanes three times without signaling.”
After pulling the driver over, the officer stated that he wasn’t compliant when he asked him to exit the vehicle.
“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,” the officer said in the report.
Bongiovanni noted that Hollins resisted arrest, but what the officer failed to mention was that he allegedly hit the victim in the face during the Georgia traffic stop, which he purportedly lied about.
The officer’s actions reportedly “stepped outside of his training and state law.”
The victim stated that when he was placed in handcuffs, another officer arrived at the scene and kicked him in the face as lay on the pavement.
It was not immediately made clear if there were any words exchanged between the victim and McDonald before the alleged assault.
“If there were no cameras, they would have gotten away with it,” said Hollins’ attorney, Justin Miller.
Miller went on to say that “they would have painted him as the bad guy, arrested him, brushed it under the rug and probably did it to them again the next time they saw him.”
Witnesses say they were stunned after watching a police officer punch and kick a man in broad daylight during a traffic stop.
“You don’t picture yourself seeing a police officer do that live and in person,” said eyewitness Kenneth Dillard.
The Gwinnett County Police Department stated that the videos were indicative of the officer’s use of excessive force during last week’s traffic stop.
Police chief Butch Ayer mentioned that there was “literally no excuse for behavior like this.”
In a statement, the Gwinnett County Police Department announced the two officer’s termination, adding that “the revelations uncovered in this entire investigation are shocking. We are fortunate that this second video was found and we were able to move swiftly to terminate a supervisor who lied and stepped outside of his training and state law.”
[Featured Image by Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office]