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Two Officers Fired for Kicking, Punching Black Man During Traffic Stop: Video

One officer kicked Demetrius Hollins in the head while he was handcuffed.

Demetrius Hollins

Videos of a traffic stop in Gwinnett County, Ga., show two police officers punching and kicking a Black man who was pulled over for a broken taillight on Wednesday afternoon. Both officers have been fired in light of these videos.

The second video to emerge shows the beginning of the arrest, at which time Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni, who was hired in 1998, punching 21-year-old Demetrius Hollins in the face — even though Hollins exits the vehicle with his hands up.

Video via Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta Facebook Page

The first video to go viral shows Master Police Officer Robert McDonald, who had been with the department since 2013, arriving on the scene for backup. After Bongiovanni handcuffs and pins Hollins to the ground, McDonald runs over and promptly kicks Hollins in the face.

Video via Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta Facebook Page

Incidentally, Bongiovanni reported McDonald for his inappropriate actions during the arrest before video of the incident was even released.

An investigation is taking place, and both officers could face criminal charges.

“What I viewed on that video disturbed me, as it disturbed everyone who actually witnessed that video,” Police Chief Butch Ayers said of the first video (before the department was aware of Bongiovanni’s role in the incident). “The suspect, or the man, in that video, was lying down, he was clearly handcuffed, he was clearly not resisting, and he was not a threat to anyone. What happened yesterday at the hands of one of my former officers was embarrassing not only to the Gwinnett County Police Department, but to all law enforcement.”

Bongiovanni had not mentioned any use of force in his police report but did acknowledge using a Taser on Hollins, WSB-TV Atlanta reported.

“The revelations uncovered in this entire investigation are shocking,” a department media release states. “We are fortunate that this second video was found and we were able to move swiftly to terminate the supervisor who lied and stepped outside his training and state law.”

“We acknowledge that the actions of these two officers have implications that will be felt for some time,” the release adds. “However, we also believe that our decisive action in terminating both officers speaks volumes about what is expected of each officer that wears a Gwinnett County Police badge.”

Hollins was released from the Gwinnett County jail on bond, with injuries to his face still visible, alongside two attorneys.

“My name is Demetrius Hollins and all I can say is I wish this never happened to me,” he said.

Hollins faces charges for traffic violations as well as possessing less than an ounce of marijuana.

“He’s doing okay,” one attorney, Justin Miller, said. “We’re going to let the Gwinnett County Police Department do their investigation, and when we find out more we’ll tell you more.”

Related Story

Police Officer Slams, Beats Black Man for ‘Jaywalking’: Video, Nandi Cain

Police Officer Slams, Beats Black Man for ‘Jaywalking’: Video

“I thought I was going to be like the next Trayvon Martin,” Nandi Cain Jr. said after the incident. Meanwhile, the Justice Department calls for less police reform.

ABC News obtained a copy of the police report that says Hollins was driving a car “that did not have a license plate and whose passenger side brake light was out.

“Hollins also changed lanes three times without a signal,” the report continues. “The officer who pulled him over, identified in the incident report as Bongiovanni, said Hollins ‘began to act strange’ and started yelling, ‘I need to call my mom’ and ‘You have to let me go.’ The officer also said he smelled marijuana.”

Bongiovanni recalled having pulled over Hollins previously, at which time he also “exhibited ‘strange behavior,’” resisted arrest and called for his mother. It is not clear if the first incident played any role in the second.
Per ABC:

“Bongiovanni said he deployed his Taser on Hollins multiple times and placed him on the ground. The officer said Hollins eventually complied and he was able to handcuff the man. That’s when McDonald arrived to assist, according to the report.

“Hollins had a bloody lip and nose, and he was examined by a medical unit before he was placed in the officer’s patrol vehicle, according to the report.”

The videos come just after an unidentified Sacramento police officer was put on administrative leave after a violent confrontation with a Black pedestrian. Police dash cams and a cell phone recorded the incident in which the officer accused Nandi Cain Jr. of jaywalking and began beating him after pinning him to the ground.

Related Story

Justice Department to Halt Police Reform

Justice Department to Halt Police Reform

AG Jeff Sessions rejected punishing “the misdeeds of individual bad actors” — despite evidence of systemic racism embedded in some police departments.

Both incidents come at the same time U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is calling for a halt on nationwide police reform.

“The misdeeds of individual bad actors should not impugn or undermine the legitimate and honorable work that law enforcement officers and agencies perform in keeping American communities safe,” Sessions wrote in a Justice Department memo.

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33 comments

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  • As a guy who is generally in support of LEO, I watch that first video, and my instantaneous thought was “Holy crap!!!!! What is that cop doing punching the guy in the face. The guy has his hands up in the air and just got sucker punched.”

    Disgusting.

    Glad they are now ex-cops.

    I hope a civil suit goes after them personally (not just the gov’t).

    Disgusting.

    Reply
    • When you see an officer intentionally escalating a confrontation, you can’t help but wonder what is their ultimate goal? To get an opportunity to use their gun, maybe?

      Reply
  • Luke,
    Where is your article demanding firing of the Black officer who forcefully grabbed and caused an Asian man (fully paid passenger on the United flight) to break his nose, lose teeth and was dragged from the United Airlines flight? Right, you won’t.

    Reply
    • The two of them should be in jail awaiting arraignment. There should be a fair and speedy trial so the guilty SOBs can start getting their sentence over with. The difference between the United incident and the traffic stop is the thugs who dragged Dr. Dao off the plane were sent there specifically for that purpose. There may have been racism involved in selecting Dr. Dao, but that wasn’t up to the neanderthal cops. No normal human being would obey those orders and everyone in the chain of command should also be eating green baloney sandwiches in lock up for Easter weekend. Regarding the incident in the above article, the police chose to beat the daylights out of Mr. Hollins for no good reason. That’s why these two despicable thugs were fired. They should be prosecuted as well. Or maybe hired to be the guards for the United folks.

      Reply
      • Absolutely. Not sure how a comparison was made between those 2 incidents. Seems as if some people will try to defend anything.

        Reply
        • Don’t think he was defending these cops, the is no defense.
          He was pointing out the lack of concern when a black cop assaults an Asian and
          drags him off a plane.
          I think we all know if a white cop assaulted an elderly black doctor and dragged him off the plane
          every article printed would reference the race of the officer and the race of the victim and there would have
          been 10 times as many articles.

          Reply
          • Wrong. The Black cop involved in dragging Dr. Dao off of that plane was ordered there by other people. He had two choices – disobey the orders, or carry them out. He did not make the decision to select Dr. Dao – a decision which may or may not have been racist. If I were the person selected (and I would not have voluntarily left the plane either), they would not be guilty of discriminating against me because I’m disabled. Or a veteran. They would be guilty of being thugs.

            The uniformed thugs in the above article have a history of doing what they finally got caught on video doing. Racist beatdowns.

          • Sorry, but that is totally NOT true. We don’t give a damn if the offending cop is black, white, Asian, hispanic, or any other culture. Black cops have been known to be just as bad as white cops in the treatment of people they deal with. Most black folks did not defend the Baltimore cops. Don’t try to use that reverse racism crap!

    • Why it’s always why don’t you say something when it’s a black guy doing it,, show me how many times black cops harass beat up or just kill white people

      Reply
      • Show us an example of a white cop gratuitously killing a white person. I’m sure there must be one example where that happened and the cop kept his job, or got rehired at another PD. I can’t recall one, but please, you’re the expert, educate us.

        I remember recently in NJ, where a white cop went bezerk and held his ex wife at gun point. Dozens of cops responded and gently talked him to a peaceful resolution. But not before he shot his ex wife to death. Is that what you’re thinking of? http://www.nj.com/monmouth/index.ssf/2016/06/community_reacts_to_probe_of_cop_shooting_his_ex-w.html

        From the article “When he surrendered, the other officers ‘started embracing him as if he didn’t just killed his wife.'”

        Reply
  • Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey

    As somebody who has worked with Law Enforcement, and indeed has helped negotiate union contracts alongside Law Enforcement Officers (one of whom subsequently was murdered during a domestic violence call), I am all the more disgusted that this kind of behavior is still occurring among cops, and is tacitly condoned by the attitudes of people like Jeff Sessions (as long as it happens to minorities and the poor).

    Reply
  • And people think black people make this stuff up. This happens” ALL THE TIME”. This is why black people generally do not trust the police. They are like government sponsored terrorists. And it is not always the white ones. Some of the black ones are just as bad.

    Reply
  • THE BLACK TAX

    The sour fruit of the Black Tax: Time spent fighting in the endless struggles of racial microaggressions; racial indignities; de facto segregation in housing and education; discrimination; economic, wealth, health and life expectancy disparities between those with black skin and those with white skin are manifestations of the Black Tax.

    The insidious fear of a police encounter (since the passage of the Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and 1850), as recently affirmed by a ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court in September 2016, is exacerbated by the random extrajudicial killings of Black men, women, and children and is the source and toll of the Black Tax.

    This fight is exhausting, debilitating (mentally and physically), and expensive—in lost time, as well as in the depletion of limited and unrecoverable financial resources. [In our case nearly seven years]

    The fight causes the diversion of intellectual capabilities from the lofty goal of finding the cure for sickle cell anemia or high blood pressure or cancer, or from the imperative task of working for the preservation of a healthy and sustainable planet, and from being inspired by the late great Miles Davis to compose the next “Kind of Blue,” and by a modern-day Handel to compose the next Messiah.

    Instead, Black Americans are still fighting for full and equal citizenship rights that are purportedly already a birthright for non-“people of color” in America. Sadly, Black Americans are plowing and re-plowing fields that ought not exist, as if African Americans and Black Americans of African descent were living and toiling in the fields in episodes of Rod Sterling’s “The Twilight Zone” back in the1950s and 1960s.

    Fighting this fight is a hidden excise tax Black Americans pay for the negative experience. An example: Donald Trump’s ascension to the presidency by his employing the “illegitimate” undermining tactic on Barack Hussein Obama II, the 44th president of the United States: “Where are your papers?”

    In fighting this fight, America’s greatness and America’s extraordinary potential are being squandered and diminished. But the fight must be fought so that the “Black Tax” is minimized and then eradicated for future generations of African Americans and Black Americans of African descent.

    To be clear, it is a battle for simple human dignity and the right to breathe free in one’s own country. It should not be a tax to do so. But sadly, for 47 million African Americans and Black Americans of African descent, the Black Tax is a shameful reality that has its origin literally in the United States Constitution—the corpse of Article 1, Section 9, Clause 1 speaking from the grave:

    The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person. [Emphasis added.]

    White Americans are exempt from this insidious and harmful hidden excise tax and the daily battle for human dignity in these United States of America. This is because of the indefinite deferment authorized by generational white privilege and the congenital implicit bias reinforced by skewed and twisted societal norms.

    To chip away at dismantling the Black Tax, courts must strike a blow advancing the cause of social and racial justice for all Americans, and to end C-suite state-sponsored racial discrimination. Courts needs to be at the forefront of the fight to eliminate the Black Tax, not to perpetuate it. What say you?

    Reply
  • I’m a 61 year old African American female who was forced to grow up in a segregated Midwest ghetto and I’ve seen white racist KKKop beatings like this against Blacks since the age of 5. Close to 55 years later in AmeriKKKa, I’m still seeing the same racist beatings by racist white KKKops. It was just as bad when we had a half-white president called O’Bama, but he was such a paid slave by big corporations, he was afraid to address the issue of white racist KKKops KKKilling Blacks. It’s AmeriKKKa’s favorite past time–beating, oppressing and abusing Blacks while pretending to be the humanitarian country with liberty and justice for all.

    The KKKop who tased him thought he should get credit for telling on McDonald for kicking the victim when he was just as wrong for tasing him for a routine traffic stop. In racist Georgia, they will sentence this Black man for years just for having less than one ounce of marijuana. Either way, they will make this Black man spend years in prison for exposing their ongoing brutality.

    White men could have guns, knifes, and physically assault a KKKop, but will walk away with just a warning, but Black men get stomped, kicked, beaten, and KKKilled by KKKop on a routine traffic stop. It’s the favorite pastime of AmeriKKKan KKKops: KKKilling Blacks. This is why we HATE KKKops and are NOT patriotic. With all the racist whites telling us to go back to Africa, give us reparations for white racist AmeriKKKan oppression during and after slavery, a plane ticket and we might just decide to go somewhere where our heads and bodies are not used as punching bags and target practice by AmeriKKKan KKKops.

    Reply
  • Wonder how many citizens in this republic would stop their cars, get out, walk up to a police officer and calmly intercede to ask why this young man’s human and civil rights are being so blatantly disregarded, while he is being so savagely abused in full view of hundreds of passersby. Clearly, Black QUALITY OF LIFE does not matter in this country. Animals are treated with greater care. I wonder how many people would stop their cars, get out, and say: This is wrong. African Americans are the most long-suffering people on the planet. It has not served us well.

    Reply
      • Before the age of cell phones, I witnessed an officer viciously beating a Black man who was already handcuffed. I sat in my car and watched and flashed my headlights, thinking that if the officer realized he was being watched, he would stop, but he did not stop, for far too long a time. Shaken, I drove home and called the Police, to report what I had seen. A few hours later — at approximately 1 a.m. — I got a call from the Police, offering to send the officer I had reported to my home, to “discuss the alleged incident.” Thoroughly frightened and effectively intimidated, I declined their offer. At the time, I was a 30-something, White student at a prestigious law school, with zero criminal history, so I believe I would have been a credible witness. However, the Police were — apparently — more interested in covering up their colleague’s misconduct than addressing it.

        Reply
        • I used to live in Hopewell Borough, NJ. The borough council appointed a Nazi (a member of the National Alliance) to fill an empty position – public pressure forced him to resign. The same borough had a harvest festival which happened to land on Yom Kippur – I attended a council meeting and when they said they would not consider moving the date of the festival, I said I would make a list of every vendor at the event and send a letter to synagogues in the tri-state area. They had a secret meeting of the harvest festival Board of Trustees (can you imagine?) and decided to move the date (the mayor advocated for changing the date) – on the way home from the meeting, the mayor was pulled and cited with DUI. It took him two years to clear his name – he wasn’t drunk.

          We moved shortly after. A while later the mayor did too.

          Reply
  • Glad these two punks were fired, and I hope both criminal and civil suits are forthcoming. The video leads me to believe there’s a culture problem (not lack of training), as these “former” LEO’s felt comfortable beating him in plain view. They didn’t think twice about it, and obviously weren’t afraid there would be witnesses, much less a video tape. So the bigger question is “why did they feel comfortable?” They had no fear of consequences or being seen attacking this man by the public(?). They lied on an official report in an attempt to cover it up(?). Well at least they can no longer hide behind the badge, and they won’t be able to don those white sheets in prison!

    Reply
  • Carol Mortimer

    So they were both fired. and “An investigation is taking place, and both officers could face criminal charges.”

    NOT GOOD ENOUGH, Gwinnett County Police Department. NOT EVEN CLOSE to good enough.

    If those two had not been cops, they wouldl already be in jail. Why aren’t they? This was flat-out assault, and should immediately be grounds for arrest.

    Reply
    • You’re very kind. I’m wishing he wakes up in the dark, chained to the person on his right and left, bilge water fouled with vomit, urine and feces washing over his face, separated from everything he knows and everyone he loves, deep in the hold of a slave ship, on his way to an auction, then a plantation in Alabama.

      Reply
      • Luke, once again you are my hero! That was awesome. Completely laid out everything i think of that man.

        Reply
        • I didn’t write what I did lightly, for wishing on someone the closest thing to hell on earth in known human history, is nothing to jest about. But, although I dislike how I feel, I fervently, passionately and earnestly wish that on him.

          May he someday ask for redemption. Or act on redemption as I believe Lyndon B. Johnson did. Once a bigot, he rose to be a great liberator.

          It can happen.

          Reply
  • Glad they fired these cops and thank God for video!! We all know what would have happened if not for that. Imagine how many times in the past people have gotten abused by rouge cops because the tendency was to always believe the police officer. Even now it’s hard for some people to believe what their eyes are seeing.

    Reply
    • White people are predisposed to believe the police because the police are predisposed to treat white people properly. Because white people have had a lifetime of being treated fairly AND a lifetime of propaganda casting Black people as defective or less than human, it is very difficult for a white person to believe that there is systemic injustice. It is impossible for a rational black person to believe otherwise.

      This defines the chasm between Black and white America.

      Reply
  • Be prepared to see more of these incidents come to light.

    Nothing new in terms of actions, but now it is being recorded.

    Public Servants ?

    Reply
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