Now-former Gwinnett County police Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni and Master Police Officer Robert McDonald.
Photo: Credit: Gwinnett County Police Department
Photo: Credit: Gwinnett County Police Department

7 things to know about the Gwinnett police brutality case

Two Gwinnett County police officers have been fired after videos surfaced on social media Wednesday showing them punching and then kicking a man in the head.

Here are seven things we know about the case so far:

Who are the Gwinnett police officers involved?

According to authorities, the officers in the videos — both white — are Master Police Officer Robert McDonald and Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni. 

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Both officers were hired by Gwinnett police in 1998.

Who was the driver?

Twenty-one-year-old Demetrius Bryan Hollins, who is black, was the driver involved in the incident.

Why did police pull Hollins over in the first place and what did the incident report say?

The AJC previously reported that Bongiovanni attempted to initiate a traffic stop near Sugarloaf Parkway and Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

An incident reported noted that Hollins didn’t have a license plate and changed lanes multiple times without signaling. Though he didn’t immediately pull over, his car eventually stalled out.

Bongiovanni said Hollins’ car reeked of marijuana and that he then started acting strangely, saying he wanted to call his mother, the AJC reported.

When Bongiovanni asked him to get out of the car, Hollins resisted.

» RELATED: Fired Gwinnett cop had previous encounter with suspect he punched

However, Hollins’ attorney, Justin Miller, told the AJC that Bongiovanni also punched him during a traffic stop last August.

“That was the catalyst for everything,” Miller said.

The incident report shows Hollins was ultimately charged with several traffic citations, obstruction of a police officer and possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

What do the videos show? 


One video — shot from across the street and originally shared on Facebook — shows Hollins getting out of his car with his hands raised before Bongiovanni began punching him in his face.

Later, Bongiovanni shot Hollins with a stun gun, pinned him to the ground and then proceeded to handcuff him.

A video posted to social media appears to show a Gwinnett County police officer kicking a man in the head as he lies on the ground during a traffic stop. Video credit: Kent Jones.
Video: www.accessatlanta.com

The other video, posted on Twitter, shows McDonald — who later joined Bongiovanni at the scene — stomping on Hollins’ head.

Hollins, whose face was eventually covered in blood, was handcuffed and face down on the ground at the time.

How did the Gwinnett Police Department react?

Authorities fired McDonald shortly upon discovering the video of him kicking Hollins as he lay handcuffed on the ground.

According to Gwinnett County Police Chief Butch Ayers, McDonald took responsibility for his actions Thursday.

» RELATED: Two Gwinnett officers fired after stomping, punching motorist

Late Thursday, after the video of Bongiovanni punching Hollins as he stepped out of the car with his hands up surfaced, Gwinnett County police fired him, too.

“The revelations uncovered in this entire investigation are shocking,” Gwinnett police said in a statement Thursday.

“The suspect was lying down, he was clearly handcuffed, he was clearly not resisting,” Ayers said at a news conference. “He wasn’t a threat to anyone. Any further application of use of force was unnecessary and excessive.”

According to Ayers, Bongiovanni did not mention punching Hollins in his incident report or in a later interview.

He also offered no apologies. “It’s different out on the streets,” Bongiovanni told Ayers.

Both officers are currently under internal investigation and criminal charges are likely, at least for McDonald, the AJC reported.

What’s going to happen to the officers’ cases?

Gwinnett County solicitor general Rosanna Szabo said Friday she is dropping all 89 cases — all traffic misdemeanor or traffic offenses — in which McDonald or Bongiovanni worked on as principal officer or necessary witness, the AJC reported.

» RELATED: Gwinnett solicitor dismissing 89 cases related to fired officers

Do the officers have a history of brutality?

Before Wednesday, McDonald had used force three times — in 2015, 2016 and once this past February, the AJC reported.

But none of the three incidents resulted in citizen complaints and in August, McDonald was honored for three years of “good conduct” with Gwinnett police.

Bongiovanni’s personnel file, on the other hand, reveals 67 occasions when he used force in the line of duty.

He was also suspended and nearly demoted in 2014 after a citizen complain three years ago, according to personnel records reviewed by The AJC.

Return to AJC.com for updates.

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