Changes in state law could affect how the case is heard
Photo: WSB-TV
Photo: WSB-TV

Ex-Gwinnett cops indicted in traffic stop brutality case

Two ex-Gwinnett County police officers were indicted Wednesday, about 10 months after a controversial traffic stop involving a black motorist. 

Former Gwinnett police Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni and former Master Officer Robert McDonald are now facing charges ranging from violation of oath of office to battery and aggravated assault.

An indictment is a more formal set of charges handed up by a grand jury following a hearing in which a prosecutor presents the state's evidence. Generally speaking, it paves the way for a defendant’s arraignment and for a potential trial.

More Gwinnett coverage from subscriber site myAJC.com: Gwinnett’s new entertainment district: Food, drinks, shops — and MARTA? 

Bongiovanni and McDonald  were fired and arrested last April after striking a black motorist during a traffic stop near Lawrenceville. 

One bystander cellphone video that surfaced of the April 12 stop near Sugarloaf Parkway and Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road showed Bongiovanni striking 21-year-old Demetrius Hollins in the head while he stood outside his vehicle with both hands up.

A separate cellphone video showed McDonald arriving at the scene and, with Hollins already lying on the ground and handcuffed, stomping on Hollins’ head.

The indictment handed up Wednesday included a total of 10 counts. Those included the far more serious charge of aggravated assault, which was tied to McDonald purportedly pointing his firearm at Hollins’ head during the traffic stop. 

The indictment accused Bongiovanni of being a “party to the crime” of aggravated assault. It also accused the sergeant, who had been with GCPD since 1998, of lying in his official accounts of the incident. 

In all, Bongiovanni now faces eight charges. McDonald faces three.

Read the full story -- including why one ex-officer is already distancing himself from his former colleague -- at myAJC.com.

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The AJC's Tyler Estep keeps you updated on the latest happenings in Gwinnett County government and politics. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

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