GREENVILLE Co., S.C. (WSPA) – A Greenville County deputy has been fired for “conduct unbecoming” in connection with an arrest that was caught on camera and viewed nearly 100,000 times on social media.
A Greenville County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said that deputy, James Pregel, was fired for “conduct unbecoming.”
Pregel was terminated on Sept. 11, a sheriff’s office spokesman confirmed.
Surveillance video shows footage of a man being thrown to the ground during an arrest on August 1.
“It was a little scuffle,” said Nick Simmons, a manager at Simuns Tire and Brake who said he witnessed part of the incident. “It was like five police officers and the one guy…they hit on him, you know, beat on him a little bit. And then they put him in handcuffs and took him off.”
Surveillance video shows two law enforcement officers punching the man, identified as Zebbie Hudgens, by Hudgens’ attorney and activist Traci Fant. Another video shows employees of Simuns Tire and Brake confronting the deputies after the incident. One deputy told an employee in the video that they did punch the man they were arresting, and that they can punch a subject if they do not comply.
Records from the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy show Pregel was fired for making false statements during an internal investigation.
“I definitely feel there were other deputies involved that were using excessive force,” Fant said. “We were told that they were very heavily reprimanded, but of course they didn’t tell us what that reprimand was.”
Greenville County Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown declined an interview request Wednesday, saying Pregel is in the process of appealing his termination.
Court records show Hudgens was arrested for improper or defective tail lights, driving under suspension, interfering with police, and resisting arrest.
Hudgens’ attorney, Jake Erwin, said they are considering taking legal action.