GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – A jury has sided with Greenville County and the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office in a lawsuit stemming from a 2019 arrest in Greenville County.
The verdict came Friday to cap a week-long trial for a lawsuit filed by Stephon Hopskins against the sheriff’s office and county.
Friday began with closing arguments from Hopkins legal team.
They said the case is not about Hopkins actions, for which he served 7 months in 2019, but about the actions of the deputies who arrested him and what Bakari Sellers, the leader of Hopkins legal team calls their lack of accountability.
Sellers urged jurors to consider evidence he said shows Deputy Jacob Walters did use excessive force and on video camera footage, did not deny it.
Hopkins sued the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office for $500,000 in damages, calling it the benefit of his humanity.
“They are going to tell you it’s an accident,” Sellers said. “But he didn’t even say I’m sorry, he didn’t even say oops, he didn’t even say oh (expletive) my bad. You know what he told them? He mocked them and told him you are doing it to yourself. How are they going to take an intentional door slamming, tell you you’re doing it to yourself and Deputy Boone has the audacity to say if you don’t shut up were going to (expletive) do it again. They think y’all are silly enough to believe that was a mistake.”
At the center of the case was body camera footage of the arrest, which was released in 2021.
Hopkins was arrested by the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office in 2019, and claimed deputies used a stun gun on him, punched him with handcuffs and slammed his head in the door of a patrol car in the process.
According to information learned in court, officers responded to a home near White Horse Road because a 911 call was made from there. Before operators could get any information, the caller hung up.
Deputies said Hopkins ran when they arrived. They said they eventually apprehended him and he was charged with resisting arrest and hindering an officer.
The Defense Attorney for the County and the Sheriffs Office, Stephanie Burton argued this was a case about money.
Burton says Hopkins made false allegations, like being punched several times and that handcuffs were used as brass knuckles.
The defense team argued that Hopkins admitted he was resisting arrest and the deputies’ force against Hopkins was not a matter of gross negligence and that his head being caught in the car door was an accident.
“If I am going to intentionally hurt Mr.Hopkins am I dumb enough to turn on my body worn camera?” Burton said. “What would have happened if Mr. Hopkins would have just stopped for deputies that day? Just stopped and talked to the deputies. Would they have needed to use any force? Would he have ever went to the detention center? We don’t know because he didn’t do it.”