Columbus officer indicted on alleged excessive use of force in 2019 arrest of man on Wade St.

Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 11:51 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - A Columbus police officer was indicted by a Muscogee County Grand Jury Tuesday, July 26, on alleged excessive use of force in the 2019 arrest of a man on Wade Street.

In September 2020, 35-year-old Clayton Watkins was arrested following an investigation, requested by the GBI, on excessive use of force 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 Muscogee County District Attorney’s Office presented the case to the Grand Jury this week. Watkins will be arraigned soon and the case will then be bound over to Superior Court.

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