GWINNETT COUNTY, GA – A Georgia police officer was fired Thursday, less than 24 hours after a witness recorded him kicking a handcuffed man in the head.
Police Officer Robert McDonald was responding as backup to assist with a traffic stop in Lawrenceville around 4 p.m. on Wednesday, at the intersection of Sugarloaf Parkway at Lawrenceville Suwannee Road, according to police reports.
Demetrius Hollins, 21, was allegedly driving a car 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 Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni, the officer who first approached the young man.
Bongiovanni claimed he smelled marijuana on Hollins and was unable to verify any information about the vehicle, which is why he ordered the 21-year-old out of the car. Hollins also yelled and refused to obey orders and resisted when the first officer tried to arrest him, the report says.
The handcuffed man is seen face-down on the ground in the video in a left-turn lane of the busy intersection when McDonald approached the man and began kicking him in the head and face before both officers pulled him to his feet.
An ambulance was immediately called to the scene and treated the man for minor injuries.
According to CBS, the incident was captured on video and posted online by a witness stuck behind the stopped car and the police vehicle. One police statement calls the video “very disturbing and speaks for itself” and was “very crucial to the investigation and it confirmed that the force used was unnecessary and excessive.”
McDonald “stepped outside the guiding principles of our agency,” a statement from the Gwinnett County Police Department says. “What happened yesterday was clearly outside of state law and department policy,” the statement says. “We do not tolerate actions that are not consistent with our core values or state law.”
After the troubling incident, the Gwinnett County police department launched a criminal investigation of McDonald’s behavior and the police department seized his issued firearm before sending him home.
Any findings from the investigation will be turned over to the county district attorney, who will then decide whether to prosecute the officer.
McDonald, who had been on the police force since August of 2013, was terminated from the department.
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 being held on bond totaling $7,502, says the report.
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