COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — A Muscogee County Grand Jury indicted a Columbus Police officer Monday on accusations he used excessive force in the 2019 arrest of a man on Wade Street, the District Attorney’s Office confirmed.
Police officer Clayton Watkins was indicted on two felony counts of violation of oath, one citing battery and the other for excessive use of force.
Watkins was arrested in September 2020, nearly a year after the incident. The officer’s arrest followed a GBI investigation of the Oct. 18, 2019 arrest of then 43-year-old Donnell Russell. The charges at the time of Watkins’ arrest were similar to the two charges he was indicted on by the Grand Jury.
According to the GBI investigation, Russell was walking in the middle of Wade Street when he was approached by Watkins and a trainee officer.
“During the stop, Russell refused to comply when told by Watkins multiple times to open his left hand which appeared to be concealing an item,” the GBI report stated, “Watkins then placed Russell in handcuffs and Russell continued to refuse to open his hand. Body camera footage shows Watkins subsequently 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 suspected marijuana in his hand.”
The incident was captured on video and that video was posted to social media. Here is a link to WRBL’s 2020 reporting on the arrest.
The Muscogee County District Attorney’s Office presented the case to the Grand Jury this week. The indictment was returned Tuesday.
Watkins will be arraigned in the next couple of weeks and the case will then be moved to a Superior Court trail docket.
According to the Human Resources Director for the Columbus Consolidated Government, Watkins has been on administrative leave without pay since Sept. 18, 2020.