A Clayton County Sheriff’s deputy has been fired after he was filmed repeatedly punching a Black man during an arrest on Friday, September 11. Lawyers of the victim say he lost consciousness twice during the attack.
In the video of the incident that has been widely shared on social media, the victim, identified as Roderick Walker, can be seen on the floor struggling with two officers who are trying to restrain and handcuff him. At one point, one of the officers pins down Walker’s head to the ground with his elbow and also repeatedly punches him.
During the struggle, an agitated woman filming the incident tells the deputies Walker is bleeding, but one of them is heard saying “he’s biting my hand.” The video recording woman can also be heard telling the officers: “Get off of him. He says he can’t breathe, officer.”
A child who was at the scene is heard screaming “daddy” as the officers continue to pin Walker to the ground. His legs also appeared to give in during the altercation with the officers.
The attack eventually left Walker bloodied with a black eye.
According to WSB-TV 2, the Friday incident occurred when a Lyft car Walker was in with his girlfriend, as well as one of his children, was pulled over by a patrol car for a broken tail light. During the stop, deputies demanded to see Walker’s license but he refused to show it on the grounds that he was a passenger and had done nothing wrong but things then escalated.
“They became upset when he asked, ‘Why are you asking for my ID? I’m not driving and I haven’t done anything wrong,’” Walker’s attorney, Shean Williams, said.
Walker was arrested and charged with two counts of battery and two counts of obstruction and was still in custody on Monday.
“How does he end up in jail when he was the one that was attacked?” asked Williams. “The people that should be in jail are the officers that brutally attacked Mr. Walker.”
Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill said he ordered a bond for Walker but was rejected because he has outstanding warrants. Williams, however, rejected Hill’s claim.
“He didn’t try to get a signature bond in my belief,” he told WSB-TV 2. “What he tried to do was cover his a**.”
A statement released by Williams on Sunday also said Walker’s arrest was “illegal” and was “solely” a result of being “assaulted” by the deputies, not his outstanding warrants. According to Williams, his client would not have been in jail had the confrontation not ensued:
Roderick Walker is in jail solely because he was illegally arrested after being assaulted by Clayton County Sheriff deputies, not because of anything he did during that incident or in the past. Mr. Walker would not be in jail if it were not for this unlawful arrest that violated his legal and constitutional rights.
Roderick Walker was not detained or arrested for being on probation or having an open case in another county. Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill’s statement is just a weak attempt to deflect from his lack of leadership and continuous encouragement that his deputies violate peoples’ civil rights.
We are demanding that the Clayton County District Attorney’s office immediately dismiss these frivolous charges against Roderick Walker in this incident. The only individuals who perpetrated criminal behavior were the deputies who unlawfully assaulted and arrested him. As such, we ask that the DA pursue criminal charges against these Clayton County Sheriff’s deputies.
We are also asking that the GBI investigate the assault of Mr. Walker and also investigate the other questionable conduct displayed by representatives with the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office.
In the aftermath of the incident, Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill announced the officer seen repeatedly punching Walker has been fired for excessive use of force, WSB-TV 2 reports.
“[The] investigation of this matter will be turned over to the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office,” Hill added.
However, demonstrators who gathered at the jail on Sunday to demand Walker’s release told the news platform firing just the deputy isn’t enough. Instead, they want all the deputies involved in the incident to also be fired and charged.
“It wasn’t enough, because Sheriff Victor Hill could have easily also charged him criminally,” the rally organizer told WSB-TV 2. “Police here get to play judge, jury and executioner.”