Former sergeant won't go to prison for punching man during traffic stop

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A former Gwinnett County police sergeant accused of assaulting a driver has entered a plea deal.

Channel 2's Tony Thomas broke the news Wednesday morning that Michael Bongiovanni entered the plea without admitting guilt.

“We've got to take into consideration at one point, Bongiovanni was a good police officer. At some point, he went off the path,” District Attorney Danny Porter said.

Porter said Bongiovanni went off the path when he threw a punch at suspect Demetrius Hollins in 2017.

The confrontation was videotaped by witnesses. Bongiovanni and Officer Robert McDonald were fired by the department. Video showed McDonald kicking a handcuffed Hollins.

Bongiovanni will serve six months in a work release program and then five months' house arrest. In all, he will be on probation for 10 years. He also agreed to testify against McDonald.


"That's exactly what they train these people to do," defense attorney Don Geary said.

Geary represented Bongiovanni and said the former cop took the plea to avoid prison time.

[RELATED: Fired Gwinnett officers had previously arrested same man]

"In today's environment, when police are questioned simply for breathing, he knows the reality of what a jury could do to him," Geary said.

Hollins is still considering a civil suit against the county and officers. His attorney, Justin Miller, is happy with the conviction but wanted that time behind bars: "Just think that that's wrong. I think police officers should not be held to a different standard from members of the community."

The plea came just days before the officer was set to go to trial. The negotiations had been underway for months and through two different attorneys.

McDonald could face a jury as early as this fall.