Attorney: Georgia officers should be criminally charged
Atlanta — An attorney is calling for the two Georgia police officers who were fired after being caught on camera having a violent confrontation with a motorist to face criminal charges.
Justin D. Miller said at a news conference Saturday that the firing of Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni and Master Police Officer Robert McDonald was not enough. They were fired Thursday by the Gwinnett County Police Department after being videotaped beating 21-year-old Demetrius Hollins.
The department has opened a criminal investigation into the officers’ behavior.
“We want both of these officers criminally charged,” Miller said. “We want them to have to stand before a Gwinnett County judge in a courtroom full of Gwinnett County citizens, with their legs shackled and their hands cuffed behind their back.
And then we want them to spend the night in the Gwinnett County jail in the general population away from their family and friends. We want them to feel what Demetrius was forced to feel. Maybe then it will click to them what they did to this young man was atrocious and unacceptable and truly unbecoming of law enforcement officers.”
Bongiovanni’s attorney, Mike Pugliese, told WSB-TV Friday what his client did not use not excessive force: “It was an elbow strike, an FBI-taught defensive tactic.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (http://on-ajc.com/2oi1nu2 ) Hollins said during the press conference that the encounter with police was “the scariest moment of my life.”
“The truth would never have come to life without these videos,” Hollins said, reading from a prepared statement. “No one would have believed that I did nothing to provoke an assault I suffered at the hands of these two Gwinnett County police officers. Even now, there are still many people who see me as a criminal, not as a college student or as a son.”
Miller said they’re still mulling a potential lawsuit. He said at least four others have contacted his office claiming mistreatment by the officers.
Miller said they’re asking for a large volume of information from the police department and solicitor’s office, including: a full accounting of the officers’ histories with the department; an investigation into departmental hiring policies; the psychological evaluation for the officers; departmental training practices; disciplinary records of the two officers and every officer in Bongiovanni’s unit; along with a list of the names and contact information for all the people whose cases were dismissed by the solicitor’s office.
A police spokesman said the department wants to “continue being transparent and decisive about this entire incident.”
Information from: WSB-TV, http://www.wsbtv.com/index.html