A Georgia sheriff’s deputy has been fired after disturbing videos show him repeatedly punching a Black man during an arrest on Friday night, authorities said Sunday. Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill said an investigation has been launched and the unidentified deputy was let go due to “excessive use of force.”
The incident happened when an unmarked police vehicle pulled over a vehicle for an alleged broken taillight, according to CBS affiliate WGCL-TV. Roderick Walker, 26, was a passenger in the back seat, along with his girlfriend, 5-month-old daughter and a stepson, according to The Associated Press. Walker was asked to show identification, but he questioned the request because he wasn’t the driver. That’s when Walker was asked to exit the car and an arrest by two White deputies took place.
Video posted online shows one deputy repeatedly punching Walker in the face as he was pinned down. At one point, Walker’s nose started to bleed before he was turned over to be handcuffed. A child in the vehicle can be heard yelling “Daddy.” Walker’s girlfriend is also heard in the video yelling and telling the deputies that Walker can’t breathe.
Hill said in a statement that Walker cannot be released from jail because of 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.”
A September 12, 2020, photo provided by The Cochran Firm representing Roderick Walker shows him at Clayton County Jail in Jonesboro, Georgia, with a visible injury to his left eye.
Handout via Roderick Walker’s Lawyers
A photo released by Walker’s lawyers on Sunday shows him with a swollen left eye. Meanwhile, Hill said that Walker is “being monitored at the jail hospital by a doctor.” WGCL-TV said the sheriff’s office has not released bodycam video or provided additional details of Walker’s arrest.
The Georgia NAACP has called on Sheriff Hill to release Walker immediately and urged the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) to “conduct a thorough and independent investigation,” according to a statement.
Hill said that a criminal investigation has been turned over to the Clayton County District Attorney’s office. Clayton County is south of Atlanta.
“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,” attorney Shean Williams of The Cochran Firm, who is representing Walker, told CBS News. “Mr. Walker would not be in jail if it were not for this unlawful arrest that violated his legal and constitutional rights.”
Roderick Walker seen in an undated photo provided by the law firm representing him.
Handout via The Cochran Firm
The Cochran Firm is demanding criminal charges be filed against the deputies involved in Walker’s arrest and that GBI “investigate the other questionable conduct displayed by representatives with the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office.” The lawyers also said the sheriff’s statement “is just a weak attempt to deflect from his lack of leadership and continuous encouragement that his deputies violate peoples’ civil rights.”
Walker remains in Clayton County Jail on two charges of misdemeanor battery and two charges of obstruction, according to jail records. No bond has been set.
Roderick’s girlfriend told CBS News in an interview Sunday evening that they were getting a ride from someone they did not know, who was being generous in taking them from a rental car facility to their house.
The driver was also Black and didn’t have identification. Williams told the AP the driver was released without a citation.