GA officer arrested following excessive use of force investigation

Georgia News

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WSAV) – The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) arrested a Columbus Police officer on Friday following an investigation of an allegation of excessive use of force.

Clayton Watkins, 35, is charged with Battery and Violation of Oath of Office, according to the GBI.

On June 4, the GBI was requested by the Columbus Police Department to investigate an allegation of use of excessive force by Watkins during the arrest of 43-year-old Donnell Russell.

The investigation determined that on Oct. 18, 2019, Watkins and a trainee officer initiated a stop of Russell and another person, 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.

During the stop, Russell refused to comply when told by Watkins multiple times to open his left hand, which appeared to be concealing something. Watkins then placed Russell in handcuffs, and Russell continued to refuse to open his hand.

Body camera footage then 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 determined that Russell was concealing a “small amount of marijuana” in his hand, the GBI says. Watkins arrested Russell and charged him with Obstruction of an Officer and Violation of a City Ordinance.

Following the arrest of Watkins, the GBI’s investigation is complete. The case file will be submitted to the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for prosecution. 

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