A sheriff’s deputy in Georgia has been fired after being captured on video repeatedly punching a Black man during a traffic stop, authorities said on Sunday.
The deputy was fired for “excessive use of force”, the Clayton county sheriff’s office said. It did not identify the deputy, but said a criminal investigation had been turned over to the district attorney.
Roderick Walker, 26, was arrested and beaten on Friday, after deputies pulled over the vehicle he was riding in with his girlfriend, their five-month-old child and his stepson for an alleged broken taillight, attorney Shean William said on Sunday.
The deputies asked for identification, Williams said, then demanded Walker get out of the vehicle when he questioned why they needed it since he wasn’t driving.
The subsequent arrest, captured on video by a bystander and shared widely, shows two deputies on top of Walker, one repeatedly punching him. Walker’s girlfriend screams and tells the deputies Walker said he can’t breathe. A child in the vehicle yells: “Daddy.”
As Walker is handcuffed, the deputy who punched him tells the bystander Walker bit him. Williams said his client denies biting the deputy. Walker was trying to survive and lost consciousness at least twice during the beating, Williams said. A photo of Walker taken in jail showed a welt under his left eye.
“My reaction to the video is that it just shows unfortunately another incident where an African American male’s civil rights have been violated by people and officers and law enforcement who have the duty first to protect and serve,” Williams said.
On the video, Walker later wobbles and appears to try to jerk free as deputies get him on his feet.
Walker was arrested on suspicion of obstructing officers and battery, according to jail records. Williams demanded his release on bond and said he had asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to review the case. He also accused investigators of improperly talking to his client without an attorney at the jail.
The sheriff’s office said a court denied bond because of outstanding warrants, including a felony probation warrant out of Fulton county for cruelty to children and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
It said Walker had received medical attention and was being monitored by a doctor at the jail hospital.
Walker, his girlfriend and the children had dropped off a rental car and found a driver willing to take them home for $10, Williams said. The driver was also Black. Williams said the driver was released without a citation, though he also did not have identification.
A person who answered a call to the sheriff’s office said he could not comment further, citing an ongoing investigation. He declined to provide his full name.