New videos of S.C. troopers striking suspects
Wed, 02 Apr 2008 15:12:43 GMT —
A state trooper is seen kicking a suspect in the head multiple times after a high-speed interstate chase in the latest in a string of alarming Highway Patrol videos.
In two other videos, a trooper punches a suspect several times in the face after a pursuit and a different officer appears to hit a suspect with the barrel of a shotgun during a traffic stop.
The Department of Public Safety released the videos, recorded in 2006, on Monday following media requests. They are the latest to surface showing troopers acting aggressively toward suspects.
Highway Patrol Col. Russell Roark and his boss, Public Safety Director James Schweitzer, resigned this year after a video surfaced showing a trooper use a racial epithet while chasing a black suspect.
The videos have led state and federal authorities to investigate possible civil rights violations.
Public Safety spokesman Sid Gaulden has said the department welcomes the investigation. The actions of the troopers in the videos are not indicative of the majority of the force, he said Monday.
Troopers "continue to do their job and they continue to do it demonstrating unmatched professionalism," he said.
In one of the videos released Monday, recorded in January 2006, Lance Cpl. E.J. Burton punches suspect Aaron Goodman several times in the face after a pursuit and stop.
"Because of our position the only thing I could do was use my hands to gain compliance," Burton wrote in a report. Burton was ordered to undergo counseling, Gaulden said.
He was later assigned to Gov. Mark Sanford's security detail. Burton was reassigned Monday at the governor's request, Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said.
In another video, Lance Cpl. John B. Sawyer kicks Sergio Caridi in the head about six times in May 2006.
Caridi led police on a 30-mile chase on Interstate 95 in a dump truck. Officers shot out several of the truck's tires, and he got out of the vehicle with his hands up and got on the ground before Sawyer kicked him in the head.
Caridi appears to try to get up off the ground, and Sawyer kicks him again. Another officer uses a stun gun on Caridi, who was then handcuffed and taken to jail, according to disciplinary records.
In a report about the incident, Sawyer wrote that the driver "would not listen to commands because he kept getting up" and that he tried to keep Caridi on the ground "by hitting his arms with my leg but he continued."
The six-year Highway Patrol member, now 33, was placed on administrative leave, officials said. He resigned several months later and now works with the Marion County Sheriff's Department, according to documents.
Another video appears to show a trooper hitting a suspect with the barrel of a shotgun during a November 2006 traffic stop.
Lance Cpl. Michael Tomson has Demetrius Jones pinned to the ground when he appears to hit him with the gun just off the screen. Jones required several stitches, and Tomson said his shotgun slipped, according to disciplinary reports.
Tomson was demoted one rank, and his pay was cut 10 percent, Gaulden said.