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By Elisha Fieldstadt
An Atlanta police officer has been fired for using unnecessary force after he punched, tackled and used a Taser on a woman — whom he believed had an outstanding warrant for a speeding ticket — in front of her 4-year-old daughter.
Sgt. James Hines was fired on May 17 after the Atlanta Police Department investigated the May 1 arrest of Maggie Thomas, according to a statement from the department. “The Office of Professional Standards determined that the force used during the arrest was unnecessary and inconsistent with Atlanta Police Department training,” the statement said.
Video of the incident posted by Thomas’ lawyer, Gerald A. Griggs, on Twitter shows Hines forcibly remove Thomas from her car and throw her to the ground. As Thomas screams, her daughter looks on, crying “Are you going to jail?”
The person filming the incident, who appears to be on the phone with authorities, says, “I’m recording this. He slammed her on the ground. He’s tased her like three times. This is crazy. … He slammed her on the car.”
Sergeant James HinesAtlanta Police Dept.
According to an incident report by Hines, he “saw a black female sitting in a silver Infiniti” and “had gotten an earlier lookout on a silver Infiniti.”
When Hines approached Thomas in her car she “became agitated and asked why I was looking at her car and what was I doing back behind her apartments,” Hines wrote. “She said something about there shouldn’t be a white officer harassing her.”
Hines left Thomas but then “began to wonder why she became so agitated” so he looked up her records, he wrote. He saw she had a warrant for her arrest due to a speeding ticket, called for backup and went “back to the parking lot to make sure Ms. Thomas did not get away.”
When Hines approached Thomas again, she refused to hand over her license or get out of the car so he handcuffed one of her hands and she held her daughter with the other, he wrote.
Thomas started honking her horn with her head, at which point people came out of the apartments, and one of them took the little girl from the car.
“I then took Ms. Thomas to the ground and she still refused to give me her right hand. I took out my Taser and drive-stunned her to her back,” Hines wrote.
Hines handcuffed Thomas’ other hand, at which point she bit him on his hand, the officer wrote.
“I immediately punched her in the face and she fell to the ground,” Hines wrote. Another officer put her in Hines’ police car as Hines tried to verify the arrest warrant.
“The warrant for her arrest was unable to be confirmed due to the computers being down for the City of Atlanta,” Hines said. He arrested her anyway for disorderly conduct, but not before medics treated her for a swollen eye and determined there were no marks on Hines’ hand “from being bitten,” he wrote.
The Atlanta Police Department has recommended that the disorderly conduct charge against Hines be dropped.