Georgia police officer charged with battery after excessive force investigation

COLUMBUS — A Columbus Police Officer has been charged with battery after an investigation into excessive force during an arrest in October.

On Friday, Sept. 18, the GBI arrested Columbus Police Officer Clayton Watkins and charged him with Battery and Violation of Oath of Office following an investigation of an allegation of excessive use of force.

On Thursday, June 4, the GBI was asked by the Columbus Police Department to investigate an allegation of use of excessive force by Watkins during an arrest of Donnell Russell.

According to the GBI, the investigation determined that on Oct. 18, Watkins and a trainee officer initiated a stop of Russell and another individual who were walking in the middle of the road on Wade Street in Columbus. Pedestrians walking in the road is a violation of a Columbus city ordinance.

Officials say during the stop, Russell did not comply when told by Watkins multiple times to open his left hand which appeared to be concealing an item. Watkins then placed Russell in handcuffs and Russell continued to refuse to open his hand.

Body camera footage shows Watkins hitting Russell multiple times in his side, pointing a Taser at him, throwing him to the ground and hitting him again. It was later determined that Russell was concealing a small amount of suspected marijuana in his hand.

Watkins arrested Russell and charged him with obstruction of an officer and violation of a city ordinance.

The GBI investigation has been completed. The case file will be submitted to the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

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