Notes on police violence

Deacon tased to death by Atlanta cop; Washington officer on paid leave after beating grandfather who was resting in parking lot

Two recent incidents of police violence, one in Georgia, the other in Washington, have caused popular outrage while underscoring the class character of police violence. In both instances, unarmed 62-year-old grandfathers ended up in hospital emergency rooms, with one dying after being assaulted by police.

Johnny Hollman. [Photo: Hollman family photo]

On August 10, Johnny Hollman, a 62-year-old father of five, grandfather to 22 children, and deacon at Lively Stones of God Missionary Baptist Church, in Atlanta, Georgia was killed by Atlanta Police Department officer Kiran Kimbrough. Hollman died after Kimbrough tased him with a “conducted energy device,” according to Fulton County Medical Examiner report released last week. Both Hollman and Kimbrough are African-American.

Four days later and over 2,300 miles away in Spokane Valley, Washington, 62-year-old father and grandfather Kevin Hinton was beaten so severely by Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Clay Hilton that jailers refused to book him following his unwarranted arrest. Since the beating nearly two months ago, lawyers for Hinton have revealed that their clients’ medical bills are approaching $100,000. Both Hinton, and the officer who beat him, Hilton, are white.

In both instances, neither man was engaged in criminal activity when police officers decided to go “hands on” and assault them. As of this writing, neither police officer has been charged with a crime, despite that fact that both incidents were caught on police body-camera footage.

In fact, up until this Tuesday, both Kimbrough and Hilton were on paid administrative leave pending the results of “investigations” into their violent conduct.

On October 10, ahead of the expected release of body-camera footage later this week, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum fired Kimbrough for failing to “have a supervisor on the scene prior to proceeding with the physical arrest of Hollman” Fox5 reported, citing an “administrative review.”

According to Hoffman’s family and one of their lawyers, Mawuli Davis, the deacon was driving back home after bible study at his daughter’s house. After picking up a late dinner for him and his wife, Hollman got into a minor car accident roughly two blocks from his home.

Hollman called police to report the accident and waited at the scene with the other driver for nearly an hour until responding officer Kimbrough arrived. Once police arrived, Hollman called his daughter, 47-year-old Arnitra Fallins, so she could listen in on the interaction.

After assessing the accident, Kimbrough issued Hollman a citation, ruling he was at fault.

According to police, Hollman became “non-compliant” because he refused to sign the citation issued to him by Kimbrough. Due to this alleged “non-compliance” Kimbrough shocked Hollman with his taser causing cardiac dysrhythmia, or an abnormal heart rhythm, per the Fulton Count Medical Examiner report. The medical examiner noted that while Hollman did have “hypertensive and atherosclertoic cardiovascular disease” the cause of death was “homicide” caused by the use of the taser.

In an interview with the AP on Monday, Davis called police claims that Hollman refused to sign the citation, prompting police escalation, a “false narrative.” Davis, who saw the still unreleased body-camera footage last month, said Hollman “repeatedly” agreed to sign the citation. Davis said police body-camera footage will show Kimbrough grabbing Hollman’s arm after he agreed to sign the ticket, forcing him to the ground and tasing him, before placing him in handcuffs.

Responding to the belated firing of Kimbrough on Tuesday, another attorney for the family, Harold Spence, incredulously responded, “Are you kidding me? Because he didn’t have a supervisor on the scene... Again, that’s why we believe that it’s more incumbent that this video be released. Because I guarantee you that when you see the video, your thoughts won’t be ‘Where was the supervisor?’”

While Kimbrough was fired on Tuesday, Sgt. Clay Hilton of the Spokane County Sherrif’s office is still collecting a paycheck after being placed on “administrative leave” by Spokane County Sheriff John F. Nowels on September 29, over 40 days after Hilton sent 62-year-old Hinton to the emergency room for not “listening” to him.

Kevin Hinton after being beaten by Sgt. Clay Hilton. [Photo: Spokane County Sherrifs]

In interviews with the Spokesman Review and USA Today, attorneys for Hinton, Tim Note and Josh Mauer, have confirmed that their client was exhausted following a visit to his newborn granddaughter and subsequent 11-hour drive. Unable to make it home safely, Hinton attempted to take a nap in his car in the parking lot outside the Terrace View Park, in Spokane Valley, Washington.

According to police body-camera footage, at about 11:45 p.m., a little more than hour after parking his vehicle, Sgt. Hilton shined a flashlight into Hinton’s vehicle. After he opens his car door, Hilton informed Hinton that it is “a crime to be in the park after hours” and that the parking lot was “considered the park.”

A compliant Hinton responds, “Ok, I will find another place to watch a movie.”

Hilton rejected Hinton’s offer to leave and demanded to see his identification, telling him he has “committed a crime” by being in the empty parking lot.

“You are not getting my I.D. for sitting in a parking lot, sorry,” Hinton responded.

Despite Hinton’s calm demeanor, Sgt. Hilton grew increasingly agitated, telling Hinton he was, “probably going to jail for not telling me who you are.”

“Oh, for not giving you my name?” Hinton asks. “Yup,” Hilton responds.

“Ok, well you have at it,” a compliant Hinton replied.

The cop then tells him to stand up, which Hinton did, at which point Hilton gave him a contradictory order to “turn around and face the car” while at the same time grabbing the front of Hinton’s shirt.

“Don’t put your hands on me pal,” Hinton tells the cop, who responds, “You are going to get hurt” before grabbing at Hinton again, who had sat back down in the front seat of his car.

Hilton responded to Hinton sitting in his car by immediately assaulting him. Hilton punched him in the face while grabbing the back of his neck.

After punching him, the footage shows the cop pulling the 62-year-old Hinton out of his car by his ankle. While Hinton was sitting on the pavement, Hilton yelled, “Get on the ground!” and immediately punched Hinton in the face over and over again causing him to scream in agony.

In between kicking and punching Hinton, the cop yelled for him to “give me your hands.” Hinton is heard crying out in pain, “I didn’t do anything!”

As more police arrive a bloody Hinton was handcuffed and left on the pavement.

Sgt. Hilton is heard taunting him, “What part of that didn’t you understand?” and “Now you want to tell me your name?”

While a bloodied Hinton was sitting on the pavement, Hilton and at least six other police officers milled around. Hilton turns off his body-camera audio before engaging in jovial conversation with other police, a blatant violation of department policy.

After placing Hinton under arrest, the police tried to book him in the Spokane County Jail on charges of resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer. However, jail staff refused to accept Hinton given the numerous serious injures he suffered.

Attorney Note told USA Today in an interview published earlier this week that their client suffered eight broken ribs, a punctured lung, and memory loss from the police assault. Some of the broken ribs had multiple fractures, while others were separated from his sternum. Hinton’s dentures were also punched out his mouth and his lip is now permanently disfigured.

“He clearly has PTSD,” Note told the paper. “He can’t talk about this incident without becoming emotional,” the attorney added. “He hasn’t returned to his own home for fear of retaliation. He’s traumatized. He is absolutely traumatized.”

Sgt. Hilton was only placed on administrative leave after attorney Note met with Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Preston McCollam in late September during which they reviewed the charges against Hinton and the body-camera footage. McCollam dismissed the charges against Hinton “with prejudice” and informed Sheriff Nowels of the assault on Hinton, of which he was apparently unaware.

The Spokesman Review reported that this is not the first time Hilton has come under “controversy.” The paper reported that recently Division III Court of Appeals Judge George Fearing wrote an unpublished opinion accusing Hilton of “systematic racism” following the arrest of Darnai Vaile, an African American man.

Judge Fearing has made it clear that he will recuse himself from all cases involving Hilton.

“Deputy Clay Hilton’s conduct since the issuance of the decisions in State v. Vaile suggest that he works as law enforcement officer not to serve others and benefit the Spokane community, but to intimidate and dominate,” Fearing wrote.