GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Demetrius Hollins says Gwinnett County police officers beat him and stomped on his head for no reason in 2017. Those officers were later fired and sentenced to probation for the incident. Now, Hollins is suing the former officers, the police chief, and the county.
The physical and mental scars still linger for Hollins, four years after Gwinnett police launched an unprovoked attack caught on camera. “I still have some kind of PTSD from this situation. I know that there may be people that are maybe not breathing right now just as much as I am,” he said.READ MORE: The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office In Contract With FDOT For Speed Enforcement
His attorneys filed a civil suit against Sergeant Michael Bongiovanni and Officer Robert McDonald. They’re also suing Gwinnett County and former Police Chief Butch Ayers for patterns they say led to the April 2017 incident. “He was a 22-year-old man when this happened. He’s 26 now, and his life has forever been changed,” said Attorney Justin Miller.
The video shows Bongiovanni delivering the initial blow during a routine traffic stop, and McDonald is the officer seen later kicking him. “Imagine being pulled over for no reason, just being a Black man driving, being ripped out of your car, punched in the face immediately before you can utter a word, slammed to the ground, tasered, then stomped on the head by another officer,” said L. Chris Stewart, another one of his attorneys. “Imagine if what happened to Demetrius was not captured on video. He would have been in jail. He would have been charged,” Miller said.READ MORE: Atlanta School Renamed For Baseball Legend Hank Aaron
They say the chain of command allegedly turned a blind eye to Bongiovanni’s 67 reported use of force incidents. The attorneys also say Bongiovanni failed to intervene as McDonald kneeled on Hollins’ neck for 20 seconds. “There is no person that can say Mr. Hollins did anything to deserve this treatment. There was no resistance. There was nothing at all,” said Steward. “Mr. Hollins has suffered facial trauma, head trauma, multiple injuries to his back, was tasered multiple times, trauma to his shoulder area,” he added.
The attorneys say this all happened after Hollins tried recording the initial confrontation by the first officer with his cell phone. Both officers were fired and ultimately sentenced to probation. Hollins and his attorneys say it’s now time to move on the next phase of justice. “There are countless officers risking their lives every day to protect Gwinnett County, but this is the problem,” Stewart said.
They referenced similarities to the cases of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks and countless others, except Hollins survived. They’re thankful a bystander’s video showed what the police report left out. “I would like to thank those that stood up and fought for me,” said Hollins.MORE NEWS: Atlanta Public Schools Celebrates All-Time High Graduation Rate
Both Ayers and the county declined to comment. McDonald’s attorney says he has demanded the county provide a defense for his client as required by law. Court records did not list an attorney for Bongiovanni.