Atlanta Cop Fired For Punching A Black Woman Because She Bit Him Despite No Evidence of Bite Marks
An Atlanta police officer has been fired for repeatedly using a stun gun on a woman and punching her in the face in front of her sobbing four-year-old daughter. Atlanta police say they found Sgt. James Hines’ use of force was unnecessary.
An incident report says Hines was patrolling behind an apartment building when he encountered Maggie Thomas, who was sitting in a car with her daughter. She had an outstanding warrant for failing to appear in court for a speeding ticket.
The incident was captured on cellphone video as neighbors at an Atlanta apartment complex gathered around when Hines tried to arrest Thomas. An incident report obtained by the AJC notes Hines had been on patrol at the building and was told to keep an eye out for a silver Infiniti, which was similar to the one Hines had been sitting in behind the complex with her 4-year-old daughter.
Approaching Thomas to tell her she was uninsured, the officer wrote in his report that she got agitated and asked about the identity of his superiors. He also wrote Thomas said, “there shouldn’t be a white officer harassing her.”
He initially walked away but came back after discovering Thomas had an outstanding warrant for allegedly failing to appear in court for a speeding ticket.
It was then that the officer alleged Thomas refused to comply and held her daughter with one hand and dialed 911 with the other as Hines attempted to arrest her.
A scuffle ensued and gathering bystanders recording the incident. Thomas allegedly started honking the car horn with her head and a neighbor eventually got her daughter out of the car. As Thomas continued resisting arrest, Hines slammed her to the ground and used his Taser to subdue her, which was shown on witnesses’ video.
Hines alleged in his report that Thomas bit him as he tried to get her into the patrol car. However, his report said there were “no visible marks from being bitten.” Thomas denied biting the officer.
“I immediately punched her in the face and she fell to the ground,” he wrote in his report.
“For him to say I bit him, it just made me feel like he was justifying why he physically punch[ed] me like that,” Thomas told WSB-TV, noting she was concerned about the impact of the incident on her young child.
Thomas was charged with disorderly conduct/physical obstruction. The punch led to her eye swelling up and paramedics checked her before she was taken to jail. APD released a statement Monday recommending the charges against Thomas are dropped.
“Based on the investigation by our Office of Professional Standards, the chief recommended that consideration be given to dismissing the charges against Ms. Thomas,” the statement read.
Hines was fired Friday.
Speaking to WSB, Thomas’ attorney, Gerald Griggs, who most recently made waves representing the family of one of R. Kelly’s alleged victims, spoke about the emerging change in the local police department.
“I believe the higher level of Atlanta police are ready for change,” he said. “We just have to make sure the rank and file understand that there will be accountability.”