Demetrius Hollins’ disastrous encounter with two Gwinnett County, Ga., police officers during a traffic stop went viral last week after one officer punched him in the face while the other officer ran up to the scene to kick the handcuffed Hollins in the head while he was on the ground.
Those officers have been fired from the police department for their brutality. But now the 21-year-old college student, is speaking out about fearing for his life when he saw the police approach him.
According to The Root, the incident all started when Gwinnett County Police Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni pulled Hollins over for not having a license plate.
Hollins told CNN that the license plate was in the rear window. Nonetheless, upon recognizing Bongiovanni from a 2016 traffic stop that did not sit well with him, Hollins said he reached for his cell phone to record the incident.
“[Bongiovanni] started yelling at me and saying that I’m not going to get video of this, ‘You’re not going to make any phone calls, nobody is going to know about this,’” Hollins said.
Bongiovanni ordered Hollins out of the car. Cellphone video captured by a bystander shows Hollins getting out of his vehicle with his arms up, only to have Bongiovanni brutally punch him in the face for no apparent reason.
“I tried to let him know I didn’t have anything where I could hurt him and, of course, me getting out with my hands up, that means basically I’m surrendering,” Hollins said.
Bongiovanni wrote in his police report that Hollins resisted arrest, claiming that “Hollins refused to place his hands behind his back, spun around and began to actively resist arrest by bending at the waist and trying to push me away, according to The Root.
The report does not mention the fact that Bongiovanni hit Hollins in the face.
“This sergeant, in his report, tried to portray Demetrius as some type of criminal he had to defend himself against, but really it’s the exact opposite,” Hollins’ attorney, Justin Miller, said.
Hollins was also zapped with a taser at the scene before being put in handcuffs.
“After I got my hands up and [Bongiovanni] hit me, that’s when he stepped back and Tased me in the back,” Hollins said. “I fell to the ground and then that’s when it stopped. The Taser stopped and that’s when he just did it again.”
After that, Hollins decided not to move again. Unfortunately, a second police officer, Robert McDonald, decided to run up and get in on some action by kicking the handcuffed man in the head.
“[Bongiovanni] put me in handcuffs and I thought the whole ordeal was just over with and that’s when I seen another officer come out of nowhere and straight drop-kick me in the face; just stomp on my face,” Hollins said.
Another witness recorded the disturbing attack on camera:
“The revelations uncovered in this entire investigation are shocking. 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 Gwinnett County Police Department said in a press release.
Both officers were fired just a day after the videos went viral online.
The Gwinnett County solicitor-general has dropped the case against Hollins, along with 88 other cases in which Bongiovanni and McDonald were the principal officers or key witnesses.
“The actions of these officers completely undermine their credibility and they cannot be relied upon as witnesses in any pending prosecution,” the Solicitor-General’s Office said in a release Friday.
The department is investigating the criminal behavior of the officers.
“These are crimes. It’s not something that you do in the line of duty. They are above and beyond the scope of what a police officer should be doing,” Miller said. “If these officers saw Demetrius do what they did to him to someone else, they would immediately put him in jail and he’d be tried and convicted—so, we want the same thing to happen to them.”