Man stomped, punched by officers tells his side of the story -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Man stomped, punched by officers tells his side of the story

Source: Gwinnett County Police Source: Gwinnett County Police
(SOURCE: Gwinnett County Police) (SOURCE: Gwinnett County Police)

A man who was punched and kicked by two Gwinnett County Police officers in an incident that was caught on camera told his side of the story during a Saturday morning press conference.

Demetrius Hollins, 21, appeared with his attorneys at Morgan & Morgan's Atlanta office to talk about what happened. With his face still bruised and scratched three days after the encounter, Hollins told police how his arrest is already changing his life.

"Even now, there are still many people who see me as a criminal and not as a college student or as a son," said Hollins during the conference. "I was punched, tazed, kicked in the head and incarcerated for no reason."

It was the second time he had spoken publicly about the incident. When he was released from jail, Hollins didn't say much. Only that he wished the incident had never happened.

Saturday, Hollins, on the advice of his attorney Justin Miller, did not answer questions from the media.

The two officers, Robert McDonald and Michael Bongiovanni, who have both been terminated by the department, pulled over Hollins at the intersection of Sugarloaf Parkway and Lawrenceville Suwanee Road for not having a license plate and other charges.

That's when a cell phone video shows Hollins exiting his vehicle with his hands up. The video then shows Bongiovanni punching Hollins in the face. Then, former officer McDonald runs up and stomps Hollins' head while he's handcuffed and lying on the ground.

McDonald, who had been on the force since August of 2013, was later terminated from the department. Once the second video surfaced, Bongiovanni was also fired. Bongiovanni was hired September 1998 and graduated the police academy February 1999.

Gwinnett County Police Chief Butch Ayers says he's embarrassed by the video.

"There's literally no excuse for behavior like this," said Ayers. "This is not what we teach in the academy. This is not what we expect from our officers and we're not going to put up with it."

Hollins' attorney Justin Miller says Hollins tried to use his cell phone to record the encounter but Officer Bongiovanni attempted to stop him, which is what started the incident.

Hollins also claims there were no drugs in his car, despite the arrest report stating he was in possession of marijuana. His mother, Tamara Crenshaw says she's still shaken up about what happened to her son.

Attorney Miller says he commends the Gwinnett County Police Department's swift response in firing the officers but he says they just want more transparency. They want the department's hiring policies as it relates to mental health and disciplinary records, among other requests.

"We want both of these officers criminally charged," said Miller. "Criminally charged with assaulting Demetrius and violating his civil rights because make no mistake, what they did was a crime."

Hollins and Miller have yet to file a lawsuit. They say they're waiting until the investigation to conclude before deciding on any litigation.

Meanwhile, The Gwinnett County solicitor general said their office will throw out all cases involving McDonald and Bongiovanni. 

Rosanna Szabo dismissed all cases in which the former officers were the principal officer or a necessary witness, the office said in a press release.

Szabo's office said they are the prosecuting authority for misdemeanor cases and traffic offenses in the country and their primary "mission is to ensure justice for all Gwinnett citizens." 

Watch the video of the incident

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