South Carolina

Deputy fired after video shows officers punching a man on the ground, SC sheriff says

The video shows a man running from police when a sheriff’s deputy throws him to the ground.

Within seconds there are five officers on the man, who is lying in what appears to be a dirt lot. One of the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office deputies shoves the man’s head into the ground while other officers punch the man in the head and back.

The incident was caught on surveillance video from a nearby car repair shop in August and shared on Facebook. Now, one of the deputies, James Pregel, has been fired for “conduct unbecoming,” WSPA reports.

After the arrest, the officers went into Simuns Tire and Brake, where an employee questioned how officers handled the arrest after watching what happened on the shop’s camera. A deputy said in the video that they tackled the man and he wouldn’t put his hands behind his back, “and we did punch him.”

“So you had to punch him?” the employee asked. “Yes,” the unidentified deputy replied.

“If he’s under arrest, yeah, we can punch him,” the deputy said.

The deputies arrested Zebbie Hudgens and charged him with driving under suspension, improper or defective tail lights, interfering with police and resisting arrest, court records show.

Nick Simmons, manager at the shop, shared the videos on Facebook on Aug. 1.

“Police in Greenville think it’s ok to punch a man in the face repeatedly after he is on his belly with his hands behind his back. Then the supervisor says on camera that it’s ok to punch someone in the face if they are under arrest,” Simmons wrote on Facebook.

According to the Greenville News, Pregel’s record with the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy shows he was fired for “willfully making false, misleading, incomplete, deceitful or incorrect statements” about the arrest.

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