The Clayton County Sheriff’s Office fired a deputy on Sunday after he was seen on video choking a Black man unconscious during a traffic stop, according to The New York Times.
On Friday, 26-year-old Roderick Walker, his girlfriend and one of his children were passengers in a car that was taking them home after they returned a rental car. The vehicle was stopped for a busted tail light, Walker's lawyer Shean Williams said during a press conference on Saturday according to local news outlet CBS46.
During the stop, police asked for Walker's ID but he refused, saying he was only a passenger in the vehicle and that there was no reason for officers to check his ID.
On Twitter, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Sherrilyn Ifill wrote the Georgia Bureau of Investigation "must immediately take over the investigation of the terrible beating of a Lyft passenger in front of his child by officers of the Clayton County Sheriff’s office."
Lyft has said the attack did not happen during a Lyft ride.
Williams said the officers “became upset when he inquired — like every American citizen has the right to inquire — ‘Why are you asking me for my ID? I’m not driving, and I have not done anything wrong.’”
“The next thing you know — and you’ve seen on the video — he’s attacked, beaten in his face, throughout his body. He is choked, he is unable to breathe,” Williams said.
Clayton GA deputies pulled over a Lyft driver, but then beat the Black PASSENGER. Officers pressed his face on the PAVEMENT & punched him repeatedly because he didn't have his ID. Unbelievable… ANOTHER Black man saying “I can’t breathe” while being ASPHYXIATED by police!! pic.twitter.com/WGCs5wEqzx
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) September 12, 2020
Multiple videos of the incident drew widespread outrage throughout the weekend. His girlfriend was standing right beside the officers taking video of the two officers pinning Walker to the ground, punching him in the face and choking him violently as his legs shook.
In one of the videos, his girlfriend becomes despondent when Walker loses consciousness and police continue to handcuff him. He eventually regained consciousness, but other people nearby had taken videos of the incident.
"No! Don't kill him! He said he can't breathe!" his girlfriend said in the video.
Police in Georgia pull over a Lyft driver then assaults a passenger IN FRONT OF HIS KID for not having ID (another angle) pic.twitter.com/HA9Ri6OUja
— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) September 12, 2020
Walker can be heard screaming "I can't breathe" as the two officers put their full weight on his chest and punch him.
Despite the violent arrest and video showing Walker bleeding profusely, he was taken to jail where he is still being held on two charges of battery and obstructing or hindering law enforcement officers.
Williams and his Walker's family have called for his release but The New York Times reported Clayton County is refusing to release him because of outstanding cruelty to children and possession of a firearm by a felon charges as well as another warrant for failure to appear.
Walker is currently being held in the jail hospital, but there was further outrage online when a photo of him in jail was released showing his injuries.
No one should be treated this way. #RoderickWalker is a son, brother, father and native of Atlanta. Release him from the Jail.
— Jared Sawyer Jr. (@JaredSawyerJr) September 13, 2020
In a statement on Sunday, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office said the deputy who punched Walker has been fired "for excessive use of force."
"The criminal investigation of this matter will be turned over to the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office," the statement said.
The unnamed officer who was fired was initially placed on administrative leave before being terminated, according to 11Alive, but it is unclear what punishment the other white officer is facing.
“We could, unfortunately, be talking and mourning his life. We have seen this happen in George Floyd. We’ve seen this happen on too many occasions, and we’re just tired of it,” Williams said during a press conference outside the Clayton County Jail in Jonesboro, Georgia.
The Georgia NAACP called for Walker's release in a statement and told The New York Times that the Clayton County sheriff should resign in addition to all charges against Walker being dropped.