Criminal warrants have been issued for two former Gwinnett County police officers videotaped punching and kicking a man after a traffic stop, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.
Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter said Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni and Master Officer Robert McDonald have each been charged with misdemeanor battery and violating their oath of office, a felony. The latter charge, under Georgia law, carries a sentence of no less than one year in prison.
It was just two weeks ago when videos surfaced of Bongiovanni punching and McDonald kicking 21-year-old Demetrius Hollins even though the suspect did not appear to be resisting arrest. Hollins was pulled over shortly after 4 p.m. on April 12 for not having a license plate and changing lanes multiple times without signaling, according to an incident report.
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.
According to his lawyer, Mike Puglise, Bongiovanni did not punch Hollins but rather struck him with his elbow, “an FBI-taught defensive tactic.” It is not known whether McDonald has obtained legal counsel.
Gwinnett Police Chief Butch Ayers promptly fired the two officers, saying there was “no excuse for behavior like this.”
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com