VIDEO: Gwinnett Officer Fired After Kicking Handcuffed Man

A Gwinnet County police officer was sent home on leave and is under investigation.
Credit Gwinnett County Police Department / WABE
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The Gwinnett County Police Department has fired an officer who was captured in a widely-shared video of kicking a man in the head during a traffic stop on Wednesday in Lawrenceville.  

A criminal investigation has been launched that will later be sent to the county District Attorney’s office, Gwinnett County Police spokesperson Corporal Deon Washington said.

The officer, Robert McDonald, was hired by the department in 2013, and graduated from the police academy in 2014, officials said. 

“Robert McDonald stepped outside of the guiding principles of our agency, and as a result of his actions he was terminated less than 24 hours after the incident occurred,” Washington said in a statement. “The actions by this former officer do not represent the officers of this department who dedicate their lives to serving the community on a daily basis.”

An ambulance then responded and treated the handcuffed man. Police say the officer’s shift commander initiated an “immediate investigation.” The officer was sent home on administrative leave and his department-issued gun was taken.

According to official report of what happened, released by Gwinnett Police, another officer, M. Bongiovanni, said he watched a car fail to use a turn signal. The car was missing a rear license plate and had a broken brake light. The officer said he smelled marijuana and recognized Hollins from an earlier arrest in August of 2016 for marijuana possession and a loaded gun in his car.

Bongiovanni said Hollins started yelling “I need to call my mom!” and “You have to let me go.” He called for back up and ordered Hollins out of the car. According to the report, Hollins grabbed his phone and screamed “Help me” into it. The officer said he reached in the car to grab Hollins, who resisted as Bongiovanni tried to handcuff him. The officer says he used a stun gun on Hollins twice before handcuffing him. That’s when the report said Officer McDonald arrived.

The report said Hollins, who had a bloody lip and nose, kept yelling “I was only going to visit my mom!” Police say they found what they believe was marijuana in the car, as well as a bottle of urine wrapped in tea bags, which the report says officers believe was meant for someone to pass a drug test.

According to police documents, McDonald has reported having had to use force in three other cases. Each incident was determined not to require further action by the department. In 2016, the department awarded McDonald for three years of good conduct with no disciplinary actions.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.