A police sergeant in Atlanta who is shown on a viral video kicking an apparently handcuffed woman in the face while his partner stands by idly and didn’t step in to stop the brutality has been suspended without pay, but only after the graphic footage was made public.
While details were not immediately clear, the video — an 8-second snippet recorded by a bystander — shows a woman appearing to be handcuffed and lying face-down on the pavement while two police officers stand over her. The volume in the video is low, but the woman is shown lifting her head up to say something to the male officer. Even though she was clearly not a threat to him, the sergeant — a Black cop — responds by kicking the woman right in her face at very close range.
Despite the absence of most audio in the snippet, the woman can still be heard screaming in agony from being kicked in her face.
All the while, the partner of the cop who kicked the woman in the face is shown standing there emotionless and never made a single attempt to intervene and stop the apparent police brutality. That officer has been placed on administrative duty.
Local news reporter Michael Seiden tweeted the video on Monday evening in a Twitter thread that included the Atlanta Police Department‘s (APD) response to seeing the video.
“Upon reviewing the video, the actions of the sergeant appear to be unacceptable and we are also concerned with the apparent lack of reaction from another officer present during the incident,” APD said in part of a brief statement. “The decision was made to immediately relieve the sergeant and the officer from duty and place the sergeant on unpaid suspension.”
An investigation into the incident has begun.
In typical form, the names of the officers involved have not been released.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that APD said the woman was suspected of menacing residents with a gun. Police reportedly “became concerned with the female’s mental health and requested Grady EMS transport her to the hospital for evaluation.”
The video was the latest evidence that police reform is sorely needed in the U.S. And, if history is any indication, the sergeant will probably not lose his job.
That’s because Garrett Rolfe, the APD officer who killed Rayshard Brooks last year by shooting him in the back as he posed no threat, recently won his job back after Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms fired him one day after the shooting in a fast-food parking lot that also endangered the public. Rolfe was officially reinstated in May as an APD officer after an independent panel determined that he was denied certain rights during the appeal process to get his job back.
The ruling does not guarantee Rolfe, 28, will suit back up and hit the streets. But it does keep him on the payroll and gainfully employed on desk duty pending his murder case.
If the Senate ever passes the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act — something that is seeming increasingly unlikely despite Democrats controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress — legislation would be enacted that actually holds police accountable for their actions.
Inspired in part by the prosecution of former cop Derek Chauvin for murdering George Floyd, the stalled proposed legislation would not only open the sergeant up to a civil suit but it would also make sure officers like the sergeant’s partner face punishment for not immediately intervening and addressing, if not outright stopping the brutality.
This is America.