The man seen struggling with a Folly Beach police officer in a YouTube video apologized to community members Friday for an incident that was “blown way out of proportion,” but he stood by his claim that he did nothing wrong.
Erik Torgusen, 31, appeared before a city judge on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in the incident Sunday. But he was granted a continuance, and the hearing was postponed.
Speaking after the appearance, Torgusen said he never expected the incident to “go to this level, this grandeur.” He insists that a YouTube video shows him writhing in pain from pepper spray, not forcefully trying to prevent his hands from being cuffed.
“I am very apologetic that this has exploded to the extent it did,” he said. “But I’m a person who wants to go out and have fun with families. I’m not the person who goes out and gets drunk.”
Torgusen said he had “two or three beers” and had been throwing a football with children about an hour before Folly Beach Public Safety officers were called to reports of men urinating in sinks and being unruly at The Tides hotel. Torgusen said that he was in the bathroom but that he didn’t witness any such event.
Cpl. Ryland Reed followed Torgusen to the beach, where they argued about the reason for a ticket, Torgusen said.
The video shows Torgusen struggling with Reed as a crowd gathers and shouts. A police report says Torgusen uttered racially charged remarks to Reed, who is black, and aired threats, such as “I will deal with you.” Torgusen, who is half black and half Brazilian, called the accusation unfounded.
“I had a few beers by that point; I’m not going to lie,” he said. “But I was not drunk.”
Approached at the courthouse, Reed declined to comment.
Torgusen’s friend, 28-year-old Brett Ricker of Charleston, was standing nearby and filming the incident with a cellphone camera when a Charleston County deputy assisting Reed said Ricker became combative. A Folly Beach officer later used a Taser to subdue Ricker, who shoved the deputy, sheriff’s Maj. Jim Brady said.
That incident was not shown on the video.
Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin said beachgoers should familiarize themselves with the rules of conduct. He warned visitors that people caught urinating in public can be labeled as sex offenders.
The mayor would not comment on the video or voice support for any of the conflicting accounts.
“People go to the beach, and they get loud and boisterous. That’s one thing,” Goodwin said. “But when you get loud and boisterous and vulgar, no family wants to listen to that.”
Torgusen, a Charleston-based bar bouncer, said he is accustomed to drunken people and knows his limits.
Bentley Price, the judge at the hearing Friday, had previously represented Torgusen in a civil lawsuit years ago after Torgusen was attacked by Citadel cadets with a beer bottle. Price recused himself from hearing the case.
“This has turned my world upside-down,” Torgusen said. “I’m just trying to get past it and get back on my feet.”
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.
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