The Gwinnett County Solicitor’s Office has dismissed more than six dozen cases involving two Georgia officers fired for kicking and punching a Black driver during a traffic stop last week.
Gwinnett County Solicitor-General Rosanna Szabo on Friday, April 14, threw out a number of cases in which Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni and Master Police Officer Robert McDonald were the principal officers or necessary witnesses. That included 26 cases in Gwinnett County’s State Court and 63 others in Gwinnett County Recorder’s Court, according to 11Alive News.
All cases involved misdemeanors or traffic violations.
“The actions of these officers completely undermine their credibility and they cannot be relied upon as witnesses in any pending prosecution,” Szabo said in a press release.
“When police officers betray the public’s trust and confidence, justice demands that all those cases that depend on their credibility be dismissed without delay,” she added.
McDonald, a three-year veteran of the force, was fired Thursday, April 13, after video of him kicking Black driver Demetrius Hollins in the face as he lay handcuffed on the ground during a traffic stop surfaced on social media. Bongiovanni, a 19-year-veteran, also was terminated after another video emerged showing him pulling the 21-year-old man out of his car and punching him in the face, all while his Hollins’ hands were clearly in the air.
“The revelations uncovered in this entire investigation are shocking,” police department spokesman Cpl. Deon Washington said in a news release.
Criminal cases against the young man were among those dropped by the solicitor-general on Friday. 11Alive reported that Hollins was charged with marijuana possession, obstruction and several other offenses in connection with the April 12 stop. In a similar run-in with police last year in which Bongiovanni also was the arresting officer, Hollins was charged with obstructing law enforcement, marijuana possession and a drug count, the news station said.
“The truth would never have come to life without these videos,” Hollins said during a news conference Saturday, April 15. “No one would’ve believed that I did nothing to provoke an assault I suffered at the hands of these two Gwinnett County police officers. Even now, there are still many people who see me as a criminal, not as a college student or as a son.”
An internal investigation of the incident is underway, Gwinnett County Police announced last week. Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that charges against the officers are likely, especially McDonald. The ousted officers could face charges of battery, assault under the color of law and violation of oath.
Justin D. Miller, Hollins’ attorney, described the former cops as “thugs.”
“[My client is] not a thug,” Millier said. “The only thugs that were involved in this incident are Sgt. Bongiovanni and Officer McDonald because only a thug would treat a human the way they treated Demetrius.”