A sheriff’s deputy in Clayton County, Georgia, was fired Sunday for “excessive use of force” after disturbing viral videos showed him repeatedly striking a Black man and injuring him.
The Black man was identified by officials and his attorneys as Roderick Walker, an Atlanta native and father of four children.
“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,” the sheriff's office said in a statement.
The sheriff’s office said it began investigating the incident on Saturday “after being made aware of a video posted on social media involving a Deputy using physical force on a man.” The deputy was put on administrative leave on Saturday and was fired the next day.
Officials did not identify the fired deputy or the other officers who were involved in the incident. The criminal investigation of the incident will be turned over to the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office, the sheriff’s office said.
Videos shared on social media over the weekend show Walker being pinned to the ground by two officers while they attempt to arrest him during an incident on Friday. One of the officers is seen punching him in the face several times, causing Walker to bleed from his face. He also appears to lose consciousness at one point.
In one video (warning: this video is disturbing), a woman — who was later identified as Walker’s girlfriend — is heard yelling at the officers to get off him while pleading with them for Walker's life.
“Get off him,” the woman is heard shouting at the officers. “Officer, he said he can’t breathe,” the woman says repeatedly.
In another video shot by a bystander, Walker’s child is seen running around him as he is being pinned to the ground and is later heard shouting “Daddy! Daddy!” from the backseat of a vehicle.
The incident took place outside of the Georgia Department of Public Health in Clayton County, according to local news reports.
Walker is currently in jail after being arrested on two counts of battery and two counts of obstructing law enforcement officers, according to his attorney, Shean Williams.
In a press conference outside Clayton County Jail on Saturday, Williams described the charges against Walker as “frivolous” and called for his release and for the officers to be arrested.
Walker’s girlfriend and child witnessed the incident, according to Williams.
“I just want my son home cause he was beaten real bad even though he did nothing wrong,” Walker’s mother, Tywouna Walker, said at the press conference.
Williams said Walker, along with his girlfriend and one of his children, paid a driver to get a ride home after dropping off a rental car.
The driver was pulled over for a traffic violation by the sheriff’s deputy who drove up in an unmarked car, Williams said. Other officers also arrived at the scene. The officers then proceeded to ask the driver and Walker — who was a passenger — for identification.
Walker told the officers that he did not have his ID with him and asked them why they wanted his identification when he was not the one driving the car, Williams said.
After asking Walker to step out of the vehicle, the officers wrestled him to the ground, punched him several times in the head and his body, and choked him, according to Williams. Walker lost consciousness twice, Williams said, adding that he was not given any medical treatment as the video was being filmed.
“How does a young man…end up beaten and attacked by Clayton County Sheriff’s department and ends up in jail when he was the one who was attacked?” Williams said.
“How does a taillight being broken end up [in] a man being beaten?” he said.
The Clayton County Sheriff’s Office said they “ordered a signature bond courtesy for Mr. Walker 48 hours ago.”
However, the bond was denied by the Magistrate Court because 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” the sheriff’s office said.
"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. Mr. Walker would not be in jail if it were not for this unlawful arrest that violated his legal and constitutional rights," wrote Williams in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News.
"Roderick Walker was not detained or arrested for being on probation or having an open case in another county. Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill's statement is just a weak attempt to deflect from his lack of leadership and continuous encouragement that his deputies violate peoples' civil rights," Williams' statement reads.
Gerald A. Griggs, an attorney with the Georgia NAACP, released a photo showing Walker with a swollen eye.
The sheriff’s office said that Walker received medical treatment and that he did not have any fractures according to an X-ray. Walker was being monitored by a doctor at the jail hospital, officials said.
His lawyers called on people to join a protest outside Clayton County Jail on Sunday to call for Walker’s release.