A former police officer in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County, Georgia, has been convicted of aggravated assault and battery in the brutal traffic stop beating of a young Black man in 2017.
Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni pleaded no contest to the charges, the Gwinnett County district attorney’s office announced last Wednesday. As part of his plea deal, Bongiovanni will testify against his onetime partner for beating the unarmed motorist, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The disgraced officer came under fire after he was filmed sucker punching Demetrius Hollins, 21, as the driver stood with his hands in the air during an April 2017 traffic stop.
A separate bystander video showed then-officer Robert McDonald running and kicking Hollins in the head as he lay handcuffed on the ground. Both were fired by Gwinnett PD one day after the damning videos surfaced.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a situation where both officers appeared to act without justification,” District Attorney Danny Porter said at the time. “We believe it’s important, and the management of the police department believes it’s important that they move forward with an arrest warrant.”
According to prosecutors, Bongiovanni was remanded to the Gwinnett County Jail, where he’ll serve six months in work release, followed by five months of house arrest. The balance of his 10-year sentence will be served on probation, authorities said.
A trial date for McDonald hasn’t been announced, but is expected to start this fall.
Gwinnett Police Chief Butch Ayers, who fired the two officers, told the AJC that McDonald was remorseful about his actions. Bongiovanni, on the other hand, was not and justified his behavior to the chief by saying, “It’s different out on the streets.”
Hollins, who was left with a busted lip and a black eye, said his encounter with the two officers still haunts him. It was his second run-in with the pair after being arrested for obstruction and marijuana possession in 2016.
“I’ve just been having nightmares and in my head, it’s just like, ‘What could I have done that would have not let this happen to me?’” he said.
The local college student was stopped by police for a missing license plate and changing lanes multiple times without signaling, according to an incident report.
Police said Hollis didn’t pull over and was forced to stop after his car stalled.