A video of a road rage incident with a North Carolina deputy has gone viral online, but the Summerville man who shot it has a history of turning the camera on law enforcement.
Chad Walton, 32, most recently posted a video on YouTube of his tense vehicular jockeying match Monday on Interstate 526 with an Onslow County sheriff's deputy.
The video, which has been viewed more than 600,000 times, is at least one of four that Walton has posted on YouTube chronicling his encounters challenging law enforcement officers. The others involve his interactions with North Charleston police.
Walton said he's not out to get law enforcement. He said he just wants to keep them on the straight and narrow.
“The only thing a video does is keep a cop honest,” he said.
In one video recorded by Walton, a North Charleston police officer approaches him at a gas station and tells him she's responding to a complaint because several motorcycles had gathered on the property. He repeatedly questions whether a complaint was actually called in and what basis she had in approaching them.
Another video shows an officer in his squad car approaching a group of motorcyclists in a mall parking lot. Walton questions how safe it is for the officer to be driving over a sidewalk to get to them.
According to Walton, he does it to protect the public and ensure accountability.
“I don't wake up every day saying, 'I'm going to video a cop screwing up so I can ruin their career,' ” Walton said. “I don't have issues with authority, I have issues with people who abuse that authority.”
North Charleston police spokesman Spencer Pryor said Walton, like any citizen, is welcome to file a complaint with police if he feels an officer has treated him unfairly or inappropriately.
“We take all concerns from citizens about our officers very seriously, and we do investigate them,” he said.
Walton did file a complaint with the North Charleston Police Department last year saying an officer had tailgated him in a reckless manner. The report was found to be “false and not factual,” Pryor said.
Walton's latest recording posted on YouTube involves his run-in with former N.C. Deputy Craig Culpepper, who was in the Charleston area for K-9 training. Culpepper is seen on the video pulling his cruiser in front of Walton and hitting his brakes, causing the vehicles to make contact.
The collision caused about $150 of damage to Culpepper's bumper, according to a North Charleston traffic report.
Walton said he was following close behind Culpepper because the deputy was “holding up traffic.” But some commenters posting on the YouTube video accuse Walton of instigating the run-in with the deputy.
Walton told The Post and Courier that's unfair. “Anytime anyone films law enforcement doing something wrong, people blame the person who was filming,” he said.
Neither Walton nor Culpepper was cited by North Charleston Police in this week's incident, but police said Culpepper contributed to the accident.
Culpepper posted an apology on his Facebook page on Wednesday.
“While driving home I allowed another person to manage my emotions and I made a very bad decision,” Culpepper wrote. “As a result of my actions I am no longer a deputy with the Onslow County Sheriff's Office; this I am very hurt by, I loved my job.”
Walton said he doesn't feel bad about Culpepper's resignation, and that he's sure Culpepper will get another job in law enforcement.
Walton, who owns Chad Walton Racing, an auto performance and custom shop in Charleston, said it's not fair for people to rehash his criminal record on social media and news websites.
Walton has a criminal record that dates back to 1999 with convictions for failure to stop for blue lights, grand larceny, possession of a stolen vehicle and being a habitual traffic offender, according to State Law Enforcement Division records.
“They've brought up things I've done in my past that I'm not proud of. It's my past, big deal,” Walton said. “I've spent the last few years turning my life around.”
He was last arrested Dec. 24, 2010, by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office and charged with second-degree assault and battery.
After inviting a woman to his Summerville home, Walton told police his wallet went missing, according to an incident report. When he realized she was leaving his house, he chased her car near South Live Oak Drive and Farrell Street in Moncks Corner, the report stated.
Walton told police he pulled in front of the woman's car and slowed down, causing her to hit the rear of his truck. Witnesses told police Walton approached the woman's car carrying a pellet gun, but Walton denied it.
Walton said he did not want to comment on that incident. He was convicted in 2011 of the assault charge and was placed on probation for one year, according to SLED records.
Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.