Captured on cellphone video running towards a handcuffed man on the ground and kicking him in the face without provocation, a Georgia police officer was immediately fired on Thursday after his supervisors viewed the footage. According to the arrest report, both officers at the scene failed to include the unnecessary use of force in their version of events.
Around 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Gwinnett County Police Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni reportedly noticed a car changing lanes without using a turn signal and missing a license plate. While conducting a routine traffic stop, Sgt. Bongiovanni called for backup after smelling marijuana and recognizing the driver of the vehicle from a previous arrest in August.
According to Bongiovanni’s incident report, he ordered Demetrius Hollins out of the car when the suspect became belligerent and attempted to push away from him. Stuck in traffic, a bystander recorded the arrest on his cellphone as Bongiovanni used a Taser to take Hollins to the ground.
The police sergeant fired his Taser again while Hollins briefly convulsed in the street. Before rolling onto his stomach and placing his hands behind his back, Hollins could be heard shouting, “I will! I will!”
A few seconds after Bongiovanni cuffed the suspect’s wrists behind his back, Officer Robert McDonald suddenly ran toward Hollins and kicked him in the face without justification. Hollins remained motionless on the ground as McDonald drove his knee into the back of his neck.
Charged with failure to signal, driving with a suspended or revoked license, operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked registration, having a brake light that’s not in good repair, obstructing a law enforcement officer, and having less than an ounce of marijuana, Hollins was booked into jail with blood smeared across his nose and lips in his mug shot. Bongiovanni’s incident report failed to mention McDonald’s blatant use of excessive force against the restrained suspect.
“The video was very crucial to the investigation and it confirmed that the force used was unnecessary and excessive,” stated Cpl. Deon Washington. “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.”
Following the arrest, McDonald was placed on administrative leave and ordered to hand over his department issued firearm. On Thursday, the Gwinnett County Police Department terminated McDonald and announced they have launched a criminal investigation into the incident that will ultimately be sent to the District Attorney’s Office.
Hired in 2013, McDonald was involved in three “use of force” incidents and two car accidents, according to his personnel files. Although he was found not at fault in a May 2014 car crash, McDonald was found to be at fault after rear-ending a teenager’s vehicle in July 2015. The Safety Review Board determined that McDonald had been driving too close to the teen’s car, and he lost the privilege to take his patrol car home.