Two Georgia police officers were fired Thursday, a day after authorities say one punched a man who had his hands up and the other kicked the man in the head once he was handcuffed on the ground.
According to the Gwinnett County Police Department, Master Police Officer Robert McDonald violated department policy and the law. Video showed McDonald assaulting Demetrius Bryan Hollins, while assisting a supervisor who had called for backup during a traffic stop about 4 p.m. Wednesday, police said.
Hollins was handcuffed and on the ground when he was assaulted.
Several hours later, police said that supervisor, Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni, had also been fired after a second video surfaced of him punching Hollins in the face as Hollins put his hands in the air.
“We acknowledge that the actions of these two officers have implications that will be felt for some time,” a police department statement says. “However, we also believe that our decisive action in terminating both officers speaks volumes about what is expected of each officer that wears a Gwinnett County Police badge.”
The department also has opened criminal investigations into the behavior of the two officers. The results will be turned over to the county district attorney, who will decide whether to prosecute the two officers.
Police said Bongiovanni pulled Hollins over in Lawrenceville, just outside Atlanta. Footage captured by a witness shows Bongiovanni punching Hollins as Hollins stands with his hands up after getting out of the car, police said.
The other video shows Bongiovanni appearing to yell at a handcuffed man who then lies face-down in a left-turn lane of the busy intersection. McDonald runs up and immediately appears to stomp on the man’s head before both officers eventually pull him to his feet.
Hollins, 21, appears to have blood on his nose and lip in his booking photo.
The shift commander initiated an “immediate investigation” and placed McDonald on administrative leave after Hollins’ arrest.
Hollins was driving a red Acura Integra with no license plate and a brake light that didn’t work, and switched lanes three times without signaling, according to an incident report filed by Bongiovanni.
Hollins yelled and began to “act strange,” and based on that and the officer’s recollection of Hollins’ behavior during a previous arrest in August, Bongiovanni called for backup, the report says.
Hollins yelled and refused to obey orders when Bongiovanni ordered him out of the car and resisted when Bongiovanni tried to arrest him, the report says. There is no mention of Bongiovanni hitting Hollins.
The report mentions McDonald arriving after Bongiovanni had used his stun gun on Hollins and gotten him handcuffed on the ground. It doesn’t mention any contact between McDonald and Hollins.
The two officers are White and Hollins appears to be Black, police Cpl. Michele Pihera said in an email.
Jail records show Hollins faces charges of driving with a suspended or revoked license, operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked registration, failure to signal, having a brake light that’s not in good repair, obstructing a law enforcement officer and having less than an ounce of marijuana. He was released on bond Thursday afternoon.
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