Witness: Ex-Gwinnett cop stomped, threatened handcuffed motorist

<p>Former officer Robert McDonald and Sgt. Mike Bongiovanni caught on video kicking a man during a traffic stop.</p>

Credit: WSB-TV

Credit: WSB-TV

The former Gwinnett police officer on trial for alleged excessive force showed no restraint when he stomped and threatened a motorist following a April 2017 traffic stop, a truck driver who witnessed the altercation testified Friday.

“After he stomps his face, he gets down, puts his knee in his neck with his weapon drawn to the back of his head and says, ‘I’ll blow your head off!’,” witness Kenneth Dillard testified.

The ex-cop, Robert McDonald, acted as a “vigilante” “trying to get his lick on” the suspect, Demetrius Hollins, said lead prosecutor Charissa Henrich in her opening statement.

“You do not get to do as a police officer what a civilian cannot do,” Henrich said.

But the wrong officer is on trial, argued defense attorney Walt Britt, who said his client was “thrown under the bus” by his former supervisor.

“All the damage that took place in this case came from (ex-Gwinnett Sgt. Michael) Bongiovanni,” Britt said, referring to the facial injuries sustained by Hollins, who was pulled over and punched by Bongiovanni.

McDonald was next on the scene, responding to a call for help from Bongiovanni. Cell phone video showed Hollins handcuffed and lying prone on the pavement at a busy Gwinnett intersection when stomped by McDonald. (Britt said his client merely placed his foot on the suspect’s head.)

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Henrich instructed jurors to maintain their focus on McDonald.

“This case is not about Michael Bongiovanni,” she said. “It’s about this man, and his actions.”

Bongiovanni struck a plea deal with prosecutors, avoiding any prison time by agreeing to testify against his former charge.

McDonald, charged with battery, violation of oath of office and aggravated assault, faces up to 26 years in prison if convicted.

Britt, in his opening statement, indicated McDonald will take the stand in his own defense.

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