Two police officers in the Gwinnett County Police Department have been fired over two videos showing them using unnecessary and excessive force on African-American suspects during routine traffic stops.
Michael Bongiovanni pulled over motorist Demetrius Hollins in a routine traffic stop, according to police Chief Butch Ayers.
"We acknowledge that the actions of these two officers have implications that will be felt for some time", a police department statement says. "The actions by this former officer do not represent the officers of this department who dedicate their lives to serving the community on a daily basis". "There was a time when police could say, 'We need to wait for the full investigation.' Now, some departments are recognizing the importance of responding".
Bongiovanni pulled Hollins over in Lawrenceville, just outside Atlanta, police said.
"There is no question when there is a video that emerges that shows clearly what occurred, police departments are reacting more quickly", says Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Washington-based Police Executive Research Forum, a group of law enforcement professionals.
Following the incident, the officer was placed on administrative leave and sent home. He then helped the other officer load Hollins into a police vehicle.
"I'm very upset. I'm mad and I'm sick that this second video showed up", Chief Bush Ayers said during a press conference, noting he was also glad the footage surfaced and allowed them to take action against the supervising officer, who was hired by the force in 1998. "It's because American police officers have ZERO regard for black lives, they beat us, shoot and kill us without a blink of an eye and the biggest problem is, it all goes UNCHALLENGED". Another video showed McDonald, who arrived as backup after Hollins was handcuffed and lying on the ground, immediately stomping on Hollins' head.
"The history of this department is that we investigate our own people".
McDonald was forthcoming, saying he was wrong for kicking Hollins.
From there Bongiovanni punches and tasers Hollins. Ayers said the department hopes to have officers equipped with body cameras by the end of this year. The officer, who is white, then appears to stomp on the black suspect's head.
Bongoivanni didn't mention punching Hollins in his incident report or in a follow-up interview, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The officer said the vehicle appeared to stall, and he got out to speak to the driver and could smell marijuana.
Hollins was charged with marijuana possession, obstruction of a police officer and several traffic citations. Bongiovanni asked Hollins to get out of the auto and he resisted, the report said.
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