Police Abuse

Gwinnett County Police Fire Two Officers a Day After They're Caught on Video Brutalizing a Handcuffed Man

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cellphone video

The Gwinnett County Police Department (GCPD) announced it had fired Officers Robert McDonald and Michael Bongiovanni, both of whom were involved in assaulting Demetrius Hollins in an incident caught on video. The terminations come just a day after the incident occurred, in large part because the department was not hamstrung by legal privileges of public employees that prevent such timely terminations in many other jurisdictions.

Georgia does not have a "law enforcement officers bill of rights," which makes it extremely difficult to fire a police officer in those states that have such laws, and neither are public employees in Georgia granted collective bargaining privileges, which enable police unions to negotiate just the kinds of contracts that unduly protect bad actors.

Nevertheless, the two cops have some sort of appeals process, as a GCPD public information office explained to Reason. She said she's requested documents pertaining to the appeals process and would share the information with us when she gets it. She did not respond by the end of the business day today, but we'll post an update with that information if we get it.

The incident also highlights the importance of laws protecting people's rights to record police officers in public. McDonald was caught on cellphone video by a driver stomping Hollins in the head after the man had already been handcuffed—GCPD fired him less than 24 hours later.

Subsequently, the department announced it was firing McDonald's supervisor, Sergeant Michael Bongiovanni, after it said police discovered a second video taken from a different angle. "The video was contrary to what was reported by Michael Bongiovanni," the department said in a statement. "The video was filmed by a witness and shows the man getting out of the car with both hands up. As he stands with his hands up, Michael Bongiovanni strikes the man in the face."

Bongiovanni punched Hollins after Hollins got out of his car. McDonald headstomped Hollins later while he man was handcuffed.

"The revelations uncovered in this entire investigation are shocking," the statement continued. "We are fortunate that this second video was found and we were able to move swiftly to terminate a supervisor who lied and stepped outside of his training and state law."

The department also said they had launched a criminal investigation into McDonald's actions and subsequently a second one on Bongiovanni's actions. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is not involved.

"The actions by this former officer do not represent the officers of this department who dedicate their lives to serving the community on a daily basis," the department statement about McDonald's termination read.

"We acknowledge that the actions of these two officers have implications that will be felt for some time," the department said in its statement. "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."

Bongiovanni was hired in 1998, while McDonald was hired in 2013.

Watch Bongiovanni punch Hollins, then McDonald stomp the handcuffed Hollins, below, via Photography Is Not a Crime:

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  1. Sickening.

    1. Sickening.

      Two fine, upstanding Warriors In Blue putting their lives on the line for us all are now facing unemployment and criminal charges for blowing off a little steam.. Sickening indeed!

  2. Fired is good.

    Where are the criminal charges for assault?
    Or is that too much to expect?

    So when a supervisor in Georgia fires a civil servant for being the ‘wrong’ religion, or for being suspected of smoking cannabis at home in their spare time, there’s no recourse for such persons, no union to prevent these sorts of arbitrary and capricious decisions on the part of management – and y’all are ok with that, just because you hate unions?

    Really?

    1. Criminal investigation is something. The wagons weren’t circled, so you never know. Usually we don’t even see a termination, especially with someone who has almost 20 years in. Credit where credit is due. They’ve exceeded the low bar of acceptable discipline.

      If there are no criminal charges, however, you’ll find these two wearing badges again, even if they’re different ones.

    2. The article explicitly said that a criminal investigation has been started on both men.

    3. So when a supervisor in Georgia fires a civil servant for being the ‘wrong’ religion, or for being suspected of smoking cannabis at home in their spare time, there’s no recourse for such persons, no union to prevent these sorts of arbitrary and capricious decisions on the part of management – and y’all are ok with that, just because you hate unions?

      Really?

      The religion one is problematic obviously.

      Beyond that, hell yes. I’m also ok with people quitting their jobs for arbitrary and perhaps capricious reasons. Because a job isn’t something you have a right to. It’s a contract between two sides who should be free to end the contract when doing so fits their own agenda. And in this case one side is representatives of the people. That representation relationship is a contract of sorts (which we are unwillingly forced into, of course). And it’s bullshit when this contract is put second after contracts with individuals or unions or anyone else.

    4. Yes. Really. Because the alternative has been shown – time and again – to be worse.

  3. These aren’t men, they are pigs.

  4. A good portion of these videos have a just on the scene cop running up and assaulting a proned out subject. The crafty ones place a heavy knee on the head/neck/upper torso and can make a claim to be restraining the subject.

  5. Yeah, you doing like the cops, but who do you call when the sham goes down? Huh?

    You can’t answer that.

    Because fletching!

    Libtard cop-haters!~~

    1. “who do you call when the sham goes down?”

      Shamwow?

    2. Why would a libtard cop-hater be afraid to call the cops “when the sham goes down”?

      Are you suggesting the cops routinely use their positions to illegally retaliate against political viewpoints they disagree with?

  6. Wonder if they’ll stay fired, unlike this officer in Jax, FL, whose actions just resulted in a $1.9M payout.

    “Sheriff Rutherford fired Edwards after the deadly shooting, saying he made mistakes in the field, such as not waiting for backup, and put himself in a dangerous situation that led to the use of deadly force.

    The officer was reinstated after arbitration by the officers’ union, the Fraternal Order of Police, which claimed use of deadly force was justified because Williams refused to obey Edwards’ orders to put his hands up.

    After he got his job back, Edwards was placed on desk duty and he eventually resigned.”

    http://www.news4jax.com/news/l…..affic-stop

    1. “I don’t want FOP I’m a Dapper Dan man!”

  7. GWINNETT IS GREAT

    SUCCESS LIVES HERE

  8. Now if only Gwinnett PD would open their firing range* to the public I might have respect for them, even forgive the occasional dog shooting so long as it was off-leash and on public property or trespassing on private property.

    (*100 yard indoor rifle range!)

    1. This is Georgia we’re talking about. The police aren’t the only ones with nice indoor ranges, including 100 yard rifle lanes.

  9. Am I the only one who misinterpreted the headline as “Gwinnett County Police Fire Two Officers Per Day After…”?

    1. Ed honed his headline writing skills at the vaunted Columbia School of Journalism

    2. Not at first, but after re-reading I got an antiestablishment boner.

  10. Gwinnett county is also dismissing 89 pending cases for misdemeanor or traffic tickets these two are involved in.

    1. As someone who lives in Gwinnett County, Georgia I will be going to the County monthly meeting to push them into cleaning house. The Chief of Police should resign and a committee of a few citizens should investigate every police action of force and make recommendations, that are followed, for firing trouble police officers.

      This area has been growing for years and hiring new police every year, time to nip this shit in the bud.

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