LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — A second Gwinnett County police officer has been fired after a handcuffed man was stomped in the head while lying on a Georgia street.
On Wednesday around 4 p.m. ET, Master Police Officer Robert McDonald responded to assist a supervisor, Sgt. M.F. Bongiovanni, with a traffic stop at the intersection of Sugarloaf Parkway at Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.
Cellphone video of the incident shows the driver, Demetrius Hollins, being pulled from the vehicle and stomped by McDonald as he arrived on the scene. McDonald was fired early Thursday.
Later Thursday, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, another video emerged purportedly showing Bongiovanni punching Hollins in the head before McDonald arrived, even though Hollins had his hands up.
The first video to come forward, called “very disturbing” by a police spokesperson, was taken by another driver in traffic.
“What I viewed last night was disturbing to me and disturbing to others,” Gwinnett County Police Chief Butch Ayers said at a Thursday afternoon news conference. “What happened last night involving the officer last night was embarrassing to the Gwinnett County Police and other law enforcement.”
Initially police said there would be no investigation of Bongiovanni, but Thursday evening he was fired after the second video surfaced.
A police department statement said the two officers violated their training and state law. The department said both men are under criminal investigation.
“The revelations uncovered in this entire investigation are shocking,” the police statement said.
The first video, which was posted online, shows Bongiovanni appearing to yell orders at a handcuffed man who then lies face down in a left-turn lane of the busy intersection. A second officer, McDonald, arrives on the scene, runs up and immediately appears to stomp on the man’s head before both officers eventually pull him to his feet.
After being stopped by police, Hollins, 21, had attempted to restart his car before Bongiovanni pulled him from the vehicle, according to the incident report.
Police wrote that they smelled marijuana from the car that the driver had changed lanes three times without using a signal.
Hollins handed the officer his license and “began to act strange,” according to the incident report. He started yelling, “I need to call my mom,” and, “You have to let me go.”
The officer said he realized that he had arrested Hollins on Aug. 17, 2016 for having marijuana and a loaded gun in the car. The officer then requested backup, the report states.
“Sir, calm down and let me do my job. I have to make sure your license is good and that the car is not stolen,” the officer said.
Hollins replied, “It’s not stolen anymore. They stole it from me but I got it back.”
Police then asked him to repeat what he just said. Hollins started yelling, “The kids in the neighborhood stole it so I stole it back. It’s mine!”
Hollins was becoming angry at this point, according to police. He was pulled from the car, tased and handcuffed while lying on the pavement. That’s when McDonald arrived and purportedly stomped or kicked Hollins in the head.
After the beating, an ambulance crew treated Hollins, who later appeared to have blood on his nose and lip in his booking photo.
McDonald was hired by the department in August 2013 and graduated from the police academy in March 2014. Bongiovanni was hired in 1998 and graduated from the police academy in February 1999, the Journal-Constitution reported.
The incident was the second beating by police this week.
A viral video purporting to show a Sacramento, Calif. police officer beating up an alleged jaywalker Monday sparked community outrage and an internal affairs investigation.
Sacramento police officials called the incident “unacceptable” and put the officer on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.