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Sheriff clears deputy in ECU post-game incident

Posted September 15, 2008

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— A Lenoir County deputy seen on a videotape beating a fan after an East Carolina University football game was cleared Monday of any wrongdoing in the incident following an internal investigation.

During the post-game celebration of ECU's 24-3 victory over then-No. 8 West Virginia on Sept. 6, fans stormed the field of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Fans said some officers used excessive force to halt the rush to the field, and some videos have shown an unidentified officer throwing a fan to the ground and another unidentified officer repeatedly punching a fan while on the ground.

Lenoir County Sheriff Billy Smith said one of his deputies was the officer seen beating the fan, whom he described as unruly. The deputy was assisting other officers who were trying to restrain the fan, and he punched the fan's legs in an effort to bring him under control, Smith said.

"After numerous viewings of the videos before, during and after the incident, I have determined my officer was performing his job consistent with his training," Smith said in a statement. "This administrative investigation is closed unless other evidence is presented."

The deputy hasn't been named publicly.

Last week, ECU police turned its review of the incident over to the State Bureau of Investigation.

In addition to Lenoir County deputies, ECU police were assisted at the game by officers from the Greenville, Winterville and Kinston police departments and by sheriff's deputies from Pitt County.

After the SBI completes its investigation, Pitt County District Attorney Clark Everett will decide whether to bring charges, authorities said.

ECU officials said they would no longer use officers from law enforcement agencies outside Pitt County to provide security at games.

34 Comments

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  • localmom Sep 17, 2008

    leo-nc
    I read the article as you suggested and is very interesting no doubt and while it may explain the "use of force" in a court room.. I still wonder why they didn't follow the simple let go and step back instructions that were given to them. I am sure that would be appropriate force when arresting or detaining a robbery suspect, but deterring someone momentarily... long enough to see that it was futile and releasing the one of thousands as he was instructed to do. Just seems that a few of the many officers couldn't do what was told. Why were so many officers seen standing idly and observing while others jumped all about? Unfortunately for the law enforcement community, even though the majority of the officers there did as they were instructed, a few acted just as irrationally as the fans and gave all the present officers a bad name. I agree the media swarmed all over the few officers that acted a bit out of line. Typical. Sorry it gives you well behaved officers a bad rap :(

  • leo-nc Sep 17, 2008

    Localmom, your insults and your comments from am arm-chair quarterback position are exactly why you should read this article. It might give you a clue.

    http://www.fletc.gov/training/programs/legal-division/podcasts/hot-issues-podcasts/hot-issues-transcripts/use-of-force-myths-and-realities-part-i-podcast-transcript.html/

  • localmom Sep 17, 2008

    Sorry to have misspoken, the commenter stated that officers CAN'T just "let go" once they've placed their hands on someone. Were the fans wired with electrical current or can they just not follow simple instructions?

  • localmom Sep 17, 2008

    I hope the SBI has more sense than what we've seen up to present. One of the commenters said that when officers lay hands on someone and then "just let go". That's funny, because that was exactly what they were instructed to do. On the televesion interview, head of ECU security for the game stated that all officers were to attempt to restrain people from storming the field and then if it became obvious that the field would be overrun, to "LET GO" of whomever they may be holding, "STEP BACK" and protect the celebrators on the field. All of that just went right out of Barney's ear. If he could have found that bullet in his pocket, all hell would have broken loose in Mayberry! This whole thing is laughable. What a travesty that a good time can no longer be had by all! And once again, why is this supposedly and unidentified officer? I know his name and so do many others. If we were the accused, they'd be plastering our names and ugly photos nonstop for the public to see!

  • lizard Sep 16, 2008

    He blew my cover by letting people know i'm in drag. Guess I'll have to change and not be able to blend into the Obama rally. So much for working undercover.

  • MajorLeagueinfidel Sep 16, 2008

    NJDevils...no need to start calling names...I finished kindergarten in 1969....If you're dazzled by an interpretation based on first hand knowledge and 21 years of experience, then great...if not continue stomping your feet and complaining in Capital letters....

  • nofear Sep 16, 2008

    I think the officer was in the right. People should not rush the field. Why would they want to rush the field, unless there were about to destroy something. Stay of the field. You do not see people doing this in every sport. Stupid people.

  • oldcorp Sep 16, 2008

    1. It was made clear that the field was not to be trod upon by the attendees. What's confusing about that?
    2. When many of the attendees began to do so anyway, the officers and deputies made attempts to stop them, as instructed. What's unusual or confusing about that?
    3. It's impossible to adequately contol a mob, but once an officer lays hands on someone, he can't just change his mind. The ones being handled made the decision to resist. Bad decision. There's no way to make it 'look nice' for onlookers. A decision to resist is usually a bad one, and uneccessary.
    Armchair experts on use of force by police are in abundance.
    Please, all sheep return to your pens.

  • chfdcpt Sep 16, 2008

    For those of you yelling police abuse, why don't you use your rights as citizens and file a formal complaint with the DA for Pitt County? Then file an abuse complaint with the SBI. It is your right as a citizen to file complaints.

    Or is it easier to complain about it than to actually do something about it?

  • ERRN Sep 16, 2008

    Let's see, the Sheriff cleared his own deputy. Well then this must have been a fair, honest, thorough investigation. Yeah right.

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