Expert: Dashcam video shows police using excessive force

10:16 AM, May 24, 2011   |    comments
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SPRINGFIELD, Ga. (NBC) -- Georgia's Effingham County Sheriff's Department is not commenting on controversial dashcam video, but the man who some witnesses say was "sucker punched" is.

It's a blow to Bernard Wallace's face during a traffic stop in Effingham County that's raising questions.

"He really dazed me a little," says Wallace while watching a tape of the incident.

Wallace had given friend Calvin Lee a ride to Lee's brother's home. They left after an argument that resulted in Springfield Police stopping Wallace's car.

Apparently, there was a child support warrant for Lee's arrest. Two officers approached the vehicle with their guns drawn.

"All kinds of thoughts were going through my head. When I saw the gun I thought we were fixing to die," Wallace says.

Police told Lee to get out of the car. When he didn't they bashed in two of the windows and tased him.

According to the incident report filed by Springfield Officer Corporal Bill McDonald, Wallace was cooperative, unlocking the door and trying to stop Lee's attempts to drive off.

That's when the video shows Effingham County Sheriff's Investigator Jeremy Scott running from the other side of the car and knocking the 6' 2", 235 pound Wallace to his knees.

Scott then proceeds to hang on Wallace's neck in a choke hold. Scott's incident report states Wallace took a defensive stance.

Greg Connor is a 40-year police veteran. He now runs "Use of Force" a law enforcement training and consulting company. He watched the video and noticed no such defensive posture.

"I would say that is a clear indication of excessive force," he says. "I would put it up there in regards to the detective's actions, as one of the most gross demonstrations of excessive force by the punch in the jaw and then just an inappropriate application of a technique an inappropriate technique."

The Springfield Officer does indicate in his report that as he was escorting Mr. Lee to the back of his patrol vehicle, he noticed Mr. Wallace was resisting both Chief Wynn and Detective Scott.

This was, however, after Wallace was hit in the face and put in a choke hold. The Springfield Police Department did not return calls asking for comments on the case.

As for the Effingham County Deputy, no use of force report was filed; something that is required by the Sheriff's Department.

They did release a statement:

"The incident involving Mr. Wallace was investigated by a Criminal Investigations Division Supervisor in February, 2010. The supervisor found that no inappropriate behavior or actions were taken and had the actions taken been different, the incident could have resulted in a more severe outcome. There was not a formal complaint filed with the Effingham County Sheriff's Office by Mr. Wallace."

Wallace was charged with two counts of obstruction of an officer. Both charges were dropped and he has since hired a lawyer.

NBC

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