Roderick Walker, 26, was reportedly in the passenger seat of a car when deputies stopped him and for his identification even though he wasn't driving.
Disclaimer: This story contains graphic details of police brutality that readers may find disturbing
A sheriff's deputy from Georgia was fired over the weekend for "excessive use of force" after a video of him pinning a Black man to the ground and repeatedly punching him in the face emerged. 26-year-old Roderick Walker was reportedly in the passenger seat of a car when deputies stopped him. According to WILX, Walker was accompanied by his girlfriend, their 5-month-old child, and his stepson when the car was pulled over for an alleged broken taillight. An altercation ensued and officers arrested the man. A video of two White deputies pinning down Mr. Walker, while one continued punching him, appeared on social media.
Correction: This happened in Clayton County, Georgia (not the city of Clayton, GA)— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) September 12, 2020
The incident, that unfolded on Friday near the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, comes during a time when the country continues to experience intensified tensions over racism and police brutality. On Sunday, Mr. Walker's lawyer, Sheam Williams, revealed that his client was seated on the passenger seat of a lift-share car, per BBC. They were stopped by officers who asked Mr. Walker to show his identification even though he was not the one driving the vehicle. In a statement quoted by ABC News, Mr. Williams said, "He informed them that he did not have any ID and that he didn't need any since he was not driving a vehicle."
https://t.co/76E4CEyHj8— John Panzer (@jpanzer) September 12, 2020
“You cannot be legally arrested for refusing to identity yourself to a police officer (unless you are charged with loitering or prowling).”
Walker asked the deputies why they needed to see his ID because he wasn't driving the vehicle but the deputies were left upset with this question, said, Williams. They demanded that he step out of the vehicle that he wasn't driving. Things escalated pretty quickly after Walker told the deputies that he had done nothing wrong. Soon he found himself restained on to the floor, "being beaten on the ground, being tased, and almost dying." Daily Mail reports that the man said, "I'm going to die. I can't breathe," as the two deputies continued exerting their weight on Walker. In the shocking footage, Walker's girlfriend can be heard screaming for the officers to stop and "not to kill him" along with a child who yells "Daddy." When his concerned girlfriend asks the officers if Walker is okay, a third deputy directs her "to get in the car before you end up in handcuffs."
Another version of the footage captured by a bystander shows the deputy punching Walker at least nine times. Williams said that his client lost consciousness at least twice during the brutal beating. As Walker was being handcuffed, the deputy who repeatedly punched him was heard telling a bystander that he was bitten by Walker but the same cannot be deciphered in the video. Ultimately, he was arrested and charged with two counts of battery and two counts of obstructing or hindering law enforcement officers. A photo of Mr. Walker was taken while he was in custody and it shows how the beating left him with a swollen left eye. He also denied biting the officers.
Breaking!— Audrey Washington (@AudreyWSBTV) September 13, 2020
Per Clayton County Sheriff’s Office:
”The Deputy who repeatedly struck Roderick Walker is being terminated from the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office by order of Sheriff Victor Hill for excessive use of force.”@wsbtv pic.twitter.com/v9aDNfqCqg
"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," said Mr. Williams condemning the actions of the deputy. As the video sparked outrage the Clayton County Sheriff's Office announced that the deputy who was seen punching the Black man on camera has been terminated. "The Deputy who repeatedly struck Roderick Walker is being terminated from the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office by order of Sheriff Victor Hill for excessive use of force," they informed according to TMZ.
Now arrest the cops!! This was too sad to watch. I’m in tears. He didn’t have to constantly hit him like that. Why do y’all hate us so much???????— PrettyT (@PrettyT12807113) September 13, 2020
Speaking to the outlet, the Clayton County Sheriff's Office said, "After being made aware of a video posted on social media involving a Deputy using physical force on a man, Sheriff Victor Hill ordered his entire Internal Affairs Unit to come in and begin an investigation that has been ongoing since 8 pm. The Sheriff has ordered that the Deputy involved be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation." They also revealed that a court had denied Walker's bond for release citing his outstanding warrants. "Unfortunately, Mr. Walker has a felony probation warrant out of Fulton County for Cruelty to Children, Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, and a Failure to Appear warrant out of Hapeville which resulted in Magistrate Court denying him a bond," it read. "Mr. Walker’s legal counsel will have to resolve these issues to secure his release."