ATLANTA (CBSMiami/AP) — 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.
The Gwinnett County Police Department said that Master Police Officer Robert McDonald violated department policy and the law. Video showed McDonald assaulting Demetrius Bryan Hollins, who was handcuffed, while assisting a supervisor who had called for backup during a traffic stop about 4 p.m. Wednesday, police said.
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.
“I’m literally sick about it. Literally sick. You know, these aren’t the standards we have,” said Gwinnett County Police Chief Butch Ayers.
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.
McDonald was hired by the department in August 2013 and graduated from the police academy in March 2014, while Bongiovanni was hired in September 1998 and graduated from the academy in February 1999.
Bongiovanni pulled Hollins over in Lawrenceville, just outside Atlanta, police said.
Video filmed 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 facedown 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.
The shift commander initiated an “immediate investigation” and placed McDonald on administrative leave after Hollins’ arrest.
Hollins was driving a red Acura Integra. The arrest report said Bongiovanni pulled Hollins over for an unusual lane change and driving with no license plates. After he claims Hollins acted “strange” and “angry”, Bongiovanni says he “deployed my Taser” and “performed a leg” sweep.
“All I can say is, I wish this never happened to me,” said Hollins, his face bloodied and bruised, as he was bailed out of the county jail by his attorney on Thursday.
Bongiovanni stated in the report that Hollins resisted arrest and he recognized him from a previous traffic stop, which led to an arrest. The report did not mention anything about 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 does not mention any contact between McDonald and Hollins.
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.
McDonald’s personnel file states he was “an excellent example of a team player with a strong work ethic” who completed his work on time, was always willing to help others and was courteous and professional with the public, Bongiovanni wrote in annual evaluation last June. He gave McDonald a rating of “often exceeds expectations” in many categories and no rating lower than “generally meets expectations.”
McDonald received a few commendations and recognitions, including sharing the officer of the month honor in November 2015.
He had filed three use-of-force reports explaining why he used his stun gun or physical force in the course of his duties.
He faced a disciplinary loss of his good driving record after he rear-ended another car in his patrol car in June 2015. But the officer who responded to the accident said in a letter to the department’s safety review committee that it would have been very difficult for McDonald to avoid the wreck.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)