Two white Gwinnett County police officers fired for punching and stomping a black motorist following a traffic stop had a run-in with the same man last summer, records reviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution show.
The records paint a more complex portrait of the brutal interaction between the three men, which was captured Wednesday on separate cell phone videos that have been viewed tens of thousands of times.
Master Officer Robert McDonald and his supervisor, Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni, had arrested Demetrius Hollins in August for obstructing an officer and possessing less than one ounce of marijuana, a police report shows. Hollins’ lawyer Justin Miller told The AJC that Bongiovanni, who was shown on video punching his 21-year-old client in the face on Wednesday, also struck Hollins during that first encounter.
According to Bongiovanni’s report on the Aug. 2016 arrest, Hollins had a .380 gun with one bullet underneath his seat.
“We both struggled to place Hollins in handcuffs as he twisted his body, pulled his arms from us and physically resisted arrest,” said Bongiovanni, referring to himself and McDonald.
He made no mention of punching Hollins. But Bongiovanni’s personnel file reveals 67 incidents involving use of force in nearly two decades with Gwinnett police. He was involved in 19 use of force cases in his first three years on the job. Many of those involved Taser use. None were upheld.