Two Gwinnett officers fired after stomping, punching motorist
Gwinnett solicitor dismissing 89 cases related to fired officers
Fired Gwinnett officers had history together, and with suspect
McDonald, charged with battery, violation of oath of office and aggravated assault, faces up to 26 years in prison if convicted.
The defense says Bongiovanni’s testimony may end up backfiring. After all, it was Bongiovanni who first engaged in fisticuffs with Hollins. McDonald arrived on the scene as back-up.
“The facts are the facts,” said McDonald’s attorney, Walt Britt. Bongiovanni “had a lot more problems stemming from that videotape than (McDonald) ever had.”
Hollins was pulled over by Bongiovanni for not having a license plate and changing lanes multiple times without signaling, according to an incident report. Hollins did not pull over but his car eventually stalled out.
Bongiovanni punched Hollins shortly after the 21-year-old emerged from his vehicle with his hands up. He was handcuffed and on the ground when McDonald kicked him in the head. It was Bongiovanni and McDonald’s second encounter with Hollins, whom they had arrested in August 2016 for obstructing an officer and possessing less than 1 ounce of marijuana, according to a police report at the time.
According to Bongiovanni’s report on the first arrest, Hollins had a .380 handgun with one bullet underneath his seat. Don Geary, Bongiovanni’s attorney, said that detail was on his client’s mind when he pulled Hollins over the second time.
Bongiovanni was known to be aggressive on the job. He reported 67 use-of-force incidents, many of which involved his Taser or his fists. McDonald, in his third year with Gwinnett police, was involved in four use-of-force cases — three of them with Bongiovanni.
McDonald, said Ayers, showed remorse when interviewed about the particulars of Hollins’ arrest. Bongiovanni was unapologetic, telling the chief, “It’s different out on the streets.”
As part of his plea deal, Bongiovanni is currently under home confinement, tracked by an ankle monitor. He recently completed a six-month stint in Gwinnett’s work-release program.
Hollins, meanwhile, was arrested again in 2018, accused of beating and robbing a former girlfriend. His conduct is likely to be another focus of McDonald’s defense strategy. At a pretrial hearing Britt indicated Hollins had a serious credibility problem.
Whether race factors into this case remains to be seen. McDonald, like Bongiovanni, is white; Hollins is African-American.