Columbus police officer arrested, charged after allegation of excessive use of force

Columbus police officer arrested, charged after allegation of excessive use of force

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - A Columbus police officer was arrested Friday for battery and violation of oath of office.

The GBI arrested 35-year-old Clayton Watkins following an investigation of alleged excessive use of force.

The GBI was requested June 4, 2020 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 revealed that Watkins and a trainee officer initiated a stop of Russell and another person who were walking in the middle Wade Street October 18, 2019. Pedestrians walking in the road is a violation of a Columbus city ordinance. During the stop, Russell refused to comply when Watkins told him multiple times to open his left hand, which appeared to be concealing an item, according to the GBI.

Watkins placed Russell in handcuffs and Russell continued to refuse to open his hand. Body camera footage shows Watkins then hit Russell multiple times in his side, pointed a taser at him, threw him to the ground, and hit him again.

The GBI says it was 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 case will be submitted to the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for prosecution as the GBI’s investigation is complete.

Assistant Police Chief Gil Slouchick says Watkins is on administrative leave without pay.

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