Former Atlanta police officer pleads guilty in 2016 assault of unarmed teen

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A fired Atlanta police officer finds himself on the wrong side of the law and entered several guilty pleas in the kicking assault of an unarmed teenager in 2016.

UPDATED: Former APD officer sentenced to 20 years after assaulting teenager

Authorities said that on Sept. 16, 2016, former Atlanta police officer Matthew Johns kicked a 15-year-old three times in the head while he was lying on the ground. Johns also was accused of then pressing his knee to the teen's neck. The teen was rendered unconscious and had cuts, bruises, a neck strain, and a serious concussion.

Wednesday in court, the teenager addressed the court.

"I forgive him for what he did to me, but I feel like it wrong and he should be punished for what he did," Antravious Payne responded.

Payne's mother told the court her son's behavior has changed for the worst since the assault. She says his views on himself and police officers are distorted.

Cobb county police arrested the 17-year-old on aggravated assault and street gang activity charges.

The teen had been a passenger in a stolen vehicle when Johns responded to the scene. The teen got out through the passenger door, then surrendered to authorities immediately by lying on his stomach on the pavement with his hands up. That's when Johns started kicking him, despite the teen's surrender, according to the Fulton County District Attorney's Office.

At the time, Johns was a four-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department. Prosecutors said he lied about what happened on the scene and reiterated those falsehoods in a written statement.  He was fired by Chief Erika Shields on July 26, 2017. More than a year later, a Fulton County grand jury indicted him.

In the courtroom, Fulton County prosecutors played dash-cam video of Johns kicking the teenager in the head. Johns pleaded guilty to all eight counts in the case, including aggravated assault, aggravated assault strangulation, false statement, and violation of oath by a public officer.

"While criminal justice systems across this country struggle to investigate, prosecute, and hold police officers accountable, in Fulton County a law enforcement officer pleaded guilty today," Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard Jr. said in a statement.

A Fulton County Superior Court judge will sentence Johns at the end of July.