ATLANTA - A Georgia police officer was fired Thursday, less than 24 hours after authorities say he kicked a handcuffed man in the head.
Master Police Officer Robert McDonald “stepped outside the guiding principles of our agency,” a statement from the Gwinnett County Police Department says.
“What happened yesterday was clearly outside of state law and department policy,” the statement says. “We do not tolerate actions that are not consistent with our core values or state law.”
The incident was captured on cellphone video by a witness stuck behind the stopped car and the police vehicle. A police statement says the video is “very disturbing and speaks for itself” and was “very crucial to the investigation and it confirmed that the force used was unnecessary and excessive.”
The police department also has initiated a criminal investigation of McDonald’s behavior and the results will be turned over to the county district attorney, who will decide whether to prosecute McDonald.
McDonald was hired by the department in August 2013 and graduated from the police academy in March 2014. A working phone number could not immediately be located for him, and it wasn’t clear whether he has an attorney who could comment.
McDonald assaulted the man as he responded to a call to help a supervisor with a traffic stop in Lawrenceville, just outside Atlanta, around 4 p.m. Wednesday, police said in an emailed statement.
An ambulance crew then arrived and treated the handcuffed man, who has been identified as 21-year-old Demetrius Bryan Hollins.
McDonald’s shift commander initiated an “immediate investigation,” police said. The officer was sent home on administrative leave and his department-issued gun was taken.
The video, which was posted online, shows an officer appearing to yell orders at a handcuffed man who then lies face-down in a left-turn lane of the busy intersection. A second officer runs up and immediately appears to stomp on the man’s head before both officers eventually pull him to his feet.
Hollins appears to have blood on his nose and lip in his booking photo.
Hollins was driving a car with no license plate and a brake light that didn’t work, and switched lanes three times without signaling, according to an incident report filed by Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni, the officer who first approached him.
Hollins yelled and began to “act strange,” and based on that and the officer’s recollection of Hollins’ behavior during a previous arrest in August, Bongiovanni called for backup, the report says.
The officer smelled marijuana and was unable to verify any information about the vehicle, so he ordered Hollins out of the car. Hollins yelled and refused to obey orders and resisted when Bongiovanni tried to arrest him, the report says.
When Hollins tried to push him away, the officer used his stun gun on Hollins and then swept his feet from under him with his leg, the report says. When Hollins tried to get up, Bongiovanni used the stun gun again on him again and was then able to handcuff him, the report says.
The report mentions McDonald arriving at that point but makes no mention of contact between McDonald and Hollins.
Jail records show Hollins faces charges of driving with a suspended or revoked license, operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked registration, failure to signal, having a brake light that’s not in good repair, obstructing a law enforcement officer and having less than an ounce of marijuana. He was being held Thursday on bond totaling $7,502.
The two officers are white and Hollins appears to be black, police Cpl. Michele Pihera said in an email.