Last Wednesday, jarring footage emerged from a suburb outside of Atlanta in which two white police officers appear to assault a non-violent black motorist stopped for a missing license plate.
In one video, Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni can be seen violently striking Demetrius Bryan Hollins – the stopped motorist – in the face. Hollins clearly has his hands raised, posing no threat of violence to the officer.
Shortly after, another officer – Master Police Officer Robert McDonald – appears on the scene responding to Bongiovanni’s request for backup. While Hollins is handcuffed and laying face-down on the ground, McDonald runs up and appears to stomp his head.
The second assault is reminiscent of another recent instance of police brutality in Columbus, Ohio, in which an officer blatantly kicks a handcuffed man’s head. In that situation as well, the attacking officer was white and the handcuffed individual was black.
Within a day, Georgia authorities fired both of the assaulting officers.
An official Gwinnett County police statement reads:
We acknowledge that the actions of these two officers have implications that will be felt for some time. However, we also believe that our decisive action in terminating both officers speaks volumes about what is expected of each officer that wears a Gwinnett County Police badge.
Authorities have already begun a criminal investigation. These two steps – firing the officers in question and investigating the incident – are important and serious minded first steps after such an incident. The regular occurrence of this kind of violence, however, requires a significantly larger, wide-sweeping effort by authorities generally to prevent such assaults.