SLED investigating complaint of excessive force in 2019 arrest

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office has asked the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to investigate a claim of excessive force involving a 2019 arrest.

One deputy involved has been placed on administrative duty and is under internal investigation, according to sheriff’s office spokesperson Lt. Ryan Flood.

Body camera footage from the incident was released by local activist Bruce Wilson, who said the video was obtained during discovery. The video shows handcuffed suspect Stephon Hopkins being pulled from the back of a patrol car onto the ground and a deputy subsequently shutting the door on his head.

Hopkins was arrested after deputies responded to two 911 hang ups. Upon arrival at the address, Deputy Jacob Walters reported Hopkins refused to stay and answer questions. Hopkins was tased twice and wrestled to the ground after a foot chase, according to the incident report. Deputy Walters reported he punched Hopkins in the face before handcuffing him.

“You put your hand cuffs around like brass knuckles and punch me in my ——- head,” Hopkins is heard saying in the body cam video.

Walters is heard calling for backup. Video shows Walters struggling to pull Hopkins out of the car before he eventually pulls him to the ground.

Walters wrote in the incident report that Hopkins refused to stand up and that he “rolled and put his head in the way of the door. The door made contact with his head as I was trying to close it, but not hard enough to cause injury or anything.”

Hopkins, and activist Bruce Wilson who is representing him, said he didn’t roll in the door’s way.

“That’s ridiculous,” Wilson said. “And this whole notion that Mr. Hopkins rolled his head in the door….so he knew that the officer was going to slam the door? And he timed it so perfectly that he rolled over and put his head in that door because he dosen’t care about his head?”

Another deputy came to assist Walters in bringing Hopkins inside.

“This man just put my ——- head in the ——- door and slammed it,” Hopkins is heard saying in the video. “We got a lively one,” Walters said. “He going to do it again if you don’t ——- stop,” said the law enforcement officer who came out to assist in bringing Hopkins inside.

Hopkins filed a lawsuit and a complaint with the sheriff’s office last week. In the suit, he said he now suffers Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and chronic pain. He’s asking for $2.1 million.

Hopkins pleaded no contest to resisting arrest.

7News reviewed Walters’ personnel file and didn’t see any previous complaints or discipline in his more than ten years at the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. He received high marks in his performance reviews and was promoted to sergeant at the end of last year.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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