Sheriff clears deputy in ECU post-game incident
Posted September 15, 2008 4:35 p.m. EDT
Greenville, N.C. — 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.