A Georgia sheriff’s deputy was fired Sunday after being seen on video repeatedly hitting Roderick Walker, a Black man who was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over Friday.
Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill issued a statement this afternoon saying the deputy in the now widely shared video was terminated on his orders for “excessive use of force.” A criminal investigation is now being turned over to the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office over the incident, in which the deputy could be seen punching Walker in the face and slamming his head to the ground multiple times while Walker’s girlfriend pleads for him to stop.
WARNING: Video footage below contains scenes and language that may be disturbing and offensive.
“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. This is the administrative action. The criminal investigation of this matter will be turned over the Clayton County District Attorneys Office,” reads the Sunday statement.
An attorney for Walker, Shean Williams, told WMAZ-TV the incident began after Walker and his girlfriend dropped off a rental car and asked someone to drop them off nearby. But the driver was stopped for an alleged broken taillight, which led to deputies asking Walker—a passenger—for identification. Walker allegedly questioned the deputies on why he was being asked for ID since he was not driving before they demanded he exit the vehicle.
The Clayton County Sheriff’s Office ordered a signature bond courtesy for Walker 48 hours ago, deputies told local news outlets Sunday. He has two warrants out for his arrest in other parts of the state, the office said.
But Walker’s attorney told his client’s supporters Sunday that deputies “lied” and falsified reports about warrants out for Walker’s arrest. “Deputies falsified a warrant for his arrest,” Williams said. “That’s the only reason he’s in jail. But for that, he wouldn’t be in Clayton County Jail. Period.”
“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,” the sheriff’s office statement read. “Mr. Walker’s legal counsel will have to resolve these issues to secure his release.”
“Mr. Walker has received medical treatment to include x-rays (no fractures detected) of his head and is being monitored at the jail hospital by a doctor,” the statement continued.
Walker’s attorney on Saturday showed photos of his client with severe bruises and swelling on his face, and he expressed concern Walker could have brain damage.
Newsweek reached out to both Walker’s attorney and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Sunday for any additional remarks. The Clayton County Sheriff’s office has not yet released the name of the terminated deputy.
Updated 4:06 p.m. EST: This story was updated to reflect Walker’s attorney’s remarks claiming deputies “lied“ about warrants out for his client’s arrest.