Man beaten by Gwinnett officers reaches $400,000 settlement

Demetrius Hollins speaks to members of the press at Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys Offices in September 2021 in Atlanta. Hollins, who was beaten and kicked by Gwinnett County officers, has reached a $400,000 settlement in his federal lawsuit, according to the county. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

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Demetrius Hollins speaks to members of the press at Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys Offices in September 2021 in Atlanta. Hollins, who was beaten and kicked by Gwinnett County officers, has reached a $400,000 settlement in his federal lawsuit, according to the county. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

The man who was beaten and kicked by Gwinnett County officers has reached a $400,000 settlement in his federal lawsuit, according to the county.

Demetrius Hollins, who is Black, was assaulted by two white officers on April 12, 2017, and the pair was later fired and charged.

Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni had pulled Hollins over for a license plate issue, and shortly after Hollins exited the car with his hands up, the sergeant punched him in the face, bystander video showed. As Hollins lay facedown, apparently not resisting, Officer Robert McDonald ran up and stomped Hollins’ head.

ExploreMan beaten by Gwinnett County police files suit

In September, Hollins filed a lawsuit against the officers, the former police chief and the county.

“I don’t want anyone else to experience the pain and horror I did,” Hollins said after the suit was filed. “My hope is that this lawsuit serves as a reminder that members of law enforcement need to treat people with respect. I shouldn’t be receiving justice simply because of a video.”

The county declined to comment on the settlement Tuesday.

The case was terminated in December, court records show, and last week, the Gwinnett County Commission approved paying the settlement. The lawsuit accused Gwinnett police leaders of ignoring a pattern of excessive force and falsified reports involving the two officers.

A grand jury indicted both officers in the assault. Bongiovanni pleaded no contest in 2019 to aggravated assault and was sentenced to six months in a jail work-release program, followed by five months of house arrest.

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Former Gwinnett County police Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni, left, and Master Police Officer Robert McDonald. (Credit: Gwinnett County Police Department)

Former Gwinnett County police Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni, left, and Master Police Officer Robert McDonald. (Credit: Gwinnett County Police Department)

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Former Gwinnett County police Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni, left, and Master Police Officer Robert McDonald. (Credit: Gwinnett County Police Department)

McDonald was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 10 years’ probation with the first 11 months on house arrest.

Hollins’ attorneys Justin Miller and Chris Stewart said in an emailed statement the settlement brings closure for their client.

“We are pleased that Gwinnett County has opted to resolve the lawsuit brought by Demetrius Hollins,” Stewart and Miller said. “This settlement, which represents the final chapter in the quest for justice for Mr. Hollins, is one of the largest in Gwinnett County history for an incident of this nature. We will continue to hold officers and their departments accountable when they violate their oath to protect and serve their constituents.”