April 14 (UPI) — Two police officers were fired after cellphone videos showed them kicking and punching a handcuffed suspect, Gwinnett County, Ga., Police Department announced.
A second video of Wednesday’s incident surfaced, leading to the firing Thursday of Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni, a 19-year police veteran. Earlier, Master Police Officer Robert McDonald was fired for his involvement in the arrest of Demetrius Hollins, 21, during a traffic stop near the town of Lawrenceville.
McDonald’s firing came after a social media video showed him kicking and stomping Hollins while Hollins was on the ground after he left his car. Bongiovanni was not seen in the video, but a second cellphone video, which emerged online later Wednesday, shows Hollins with his arms above his head and Bongiovanni punching him in the face. McDonald then enters the video and stomps on Hollins, who by then is handcuffed.
The incident occurred in daylight at a busy intersection.
Bongiovanni’s report said Hollins’ car lacked a license plate and changed lanes several times without signaling. After the car was pulled over, the smell of marijuana was evident and Hollins “began to act strange,” the report said.
Police Chief Butch Ayers said later that Bongiovanni did not mention punches or kicks in his report or in subsequent interviews.
Cpl. Deon Washington said in a statement, “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 the supervisor who lied and stepped outside his training and state law.”
A criminal investigation into the actions of McDonald and Bongiovanni has begun, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Thursday.
Another statement from the police department late Thursday said, “We acknowledge that the actions of these two officers have implications that will be felt for some time. 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.”
Hollins was charged with marijuana possession, obstruction of a police officer and several traffic citations.