Fired officers had previously arrested same man

Violet Powell
April 15, 2017

Gwinnett County police said in an emailed statement Thursday, April 13, 2017, that Bongiovanni was sacked after a new video surfaced showing him hitting a man in the face.

This comes just hours after the Gwinnett County police chief held a news conference to address another video that shows a Gwinnett police officer kick a handcuffed man in the face during the same traffic stop.

"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", he said.

Late Friday afternoon, the Gwinnett County Solicitor's office confirmed that both of Hollins' cases - from 2016 and 2017 - have been dismissed by the county because of the involvement of Sgt. Bongiovanni and Officer McDonald.

The officer said Hollins didn't initially pull over, but his auto eventually stalled out.

The video, posted to Facebook by Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta, shows a white officer pulling a black man out of a auto and placing him in handcuffs.

Police Chief Butch Ayers said when Bongiovanni spoke with internal affairs, he "said nothing about the punch", an action the chief called "unreasonable and unnecessary".

Ayers admitted his disappointment at the actions of his officers, despite investing in extensive training to ensure proper police behaviour.

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"The revelations uncovered in this investigation are shocking to me and my command staff", Ayers said.

A second video later surfaced that purportedly shows Hollins being punched in the face by Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni as he stepped out of his auto in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Another video showed McDonald, who arrived as backup after Hollins was handcuffed and lying on the ground, immediately stomping on Hollins' head.

"He refused, grabbed his phone and literally started to scream, 'Help me, ' in the phone", 19-year police veteran Bongiavonni wrote in a report.

From there Bongiovanni punches and tasers Hollins. Hollins left his vehicle with his hands up but was punched in the head and taken to the ground by Bongiovanni.

Police released McDonald's personnel file Thursday and said Bongiovanni's would be released Thursday. "We do not tolerate actions that are not consistent with our core values or state law".

McDonald joined the force in 2013 and received high marks from Bongiovanni, his supervisor, during his last performance evaluation. The results will be turned over to the county district attorney, who will decide whether to prosecute the two officers.

He has been fired and is facing criminal charges.

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