Atlanta officers in punching video lose certification

by: Jodie Fleischer Updated:

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ATLANTA —

Two Atlanta officers caught on video punching a suspect have now lost their certification to work as police officers.

Channel 2 Action News first exposed cellphone video of the incident in April, when one of those officers won his job back on appeal.

Now, Georgia's Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council has voted to revoke both officers' certification.

"That's about as serious as it gets," said POST Executive Director Ken Vance. "I think this shows that POST works."

The officers now have 30 days to appeal that revocation. Under POST rules, they are allowed to keep working while they wait. The process can sometimes take years to resolve.

"To this very day, I'm still scared," said Clemmin Davis, upon learning the officers in the video were wearing badges again.

Davis was the man being punched by them.

"I'm little, you know, look at me. I don't weigh that much, and they did me like that. I just thought I was going to lose my life," said Davis.

He was driving his girlfriend's car in southwest Atlanta, when he got pulled over for an expired tag. He said he got worried when his passengers ran from the car.

"At that point I was scared. I didn't know what to do or if he left weapons or drugs or anything in the vehicle," Davis said.

He ran also and collapsed in nearby woods.

"They were just kicking me, you know, just beating me. I was trying to give up my hands as you could hear in the background," said Davis.

He's thankful a passerby thought to record the incident on a cellphone.

Officer Brian Thomas admitted repeatedly kicking Davis, and resigned while under investigation. Officer Joshua Lowery was suspended for two days.

Officer Nicholas Dimauro, seen punching Davis several times, was fired.

"If I had to make the same decision, I'd make it again," Atlanta Police Chief George Turner told Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer. "I believe the officers could have handled that situation completely different."

Turner said he takes termination very seriously, and considered Dimauro's history with the department.

"There were multiple disciplinary issues that were in his file and that was one of the main reasons that we came to that conclusion," said Turner, "And obviously, the actions of this particular case was pretty egregious."

But earlier this year, the city's civil service review board forced Turner to rehire Dimauro, despite 10 prior unnecessary force complaints the board never saw. In the incident prior to the beating, the department's Office of Professional Standards investigators recommended terminating Dimauro, but that punishment was later reduced.

Records show the department recommended firing Thomas four different times prior to the beating; in each case he, too, received a lesser punishment.

"I absolutely agree with giving people due process rights, but it looks like in some instances, they have had more bites at the apple than may be deserved," said Vance.

This is the second time POST has revoked Thomas. In a prior case, he appealed and made a deal for two years of POST probation instead, after giving a bulletproof vest to a criminal. Thomas has also been in trouble for domestic violence and lying.

His lengthy history did not stop Clark Atlanta University's police department from hiring Thomas as an officer while he was under POST investigation. The department's deputy chief said Thomas has already been terminated.

"It's going to be real hard for him to get a third chance, real hard," said Vance.

An Atlanta police representative said Chief Turner is waiting for official notification from POST before taking any additional action against Dimauro.

"How can you possibly justify allowing criminals patrolling the streets with a badge and a gun?" quipped attorney Mark Bullman, who filed a civil case against the city on Davis' behalf.

They support POST's decision to get Dimauro and Thomas off the streets.

"Of course it's a good thing. It's safer for the people in Atlanta," said Bullman.

Davis just hopes this time, the punishment sticks.

"They're supposed to be here to serve and protect us, not harm us," said Davis.