A white Georgia police officer has been found guilty of stomping a Black handcuffed man in the head during a traffic stop.
A Gwinnett County jury convicted Robert McDonald of aggravated assault, battery, and violation of oath of office for kicking Demetrius Hollins during a 2017 traffic stop, reported WSBTV. The assault was captured on cellphone video and shown to jurors.
McDonald, 28, and his one-time partner, Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni, who is also white, were seen on video delivering multiple blows to Hollins.
In court, McDonald told jurors that even though Hollins was on the ground and handcuffed, he thought he was a threat because he rolled over on his side. McDonald told jurors he meant to kick Hollins in the shoulder and not his head.
Prosecutor Charissa Henrich told jurors not to believe the lie.
“This man gets out off his squad car, runs up with his gun drawn and kicks (Hollins) in the head,” Henrich said, according to WSBTV.
The Gwinnett County Police Department fired McDonald from the force after the incident, along with Bongiovanni, a one-time mentor of McDonald’s. Bongiovanni, who also physically attacked Hollins, pleaded no contest to aggravated assault and battery charges in 2019 and avoided prison. Bongiovanni, who had used his Taser on Hollins and hit him before McDonald arrived as backup, received nearly a year on a combined work release and home confinement in exchange for testifying against McDonald for the prosecution, according to WSBTV.
After the verdict, McDonald left the court with his family, pending sentencing, which is expected in two weeks. He faces a minimum of a year behind bars but could be sentenced to up to 26 years in prison.
McDonald’s attorney, Walt Britt vowed to appeal the conviction and said McDonald was “devastated. He held out hope.”