A Charleston man who was shot with a stun gun while taking a cellphone video of police arresting a man on Folly Beach two years ago has filed a suit.
Brett Ricker is seeking unspecified damages against the Charleston County Sheriff's Office; the Folly Beach Police Department; Christopher Davis, a former Charleston County sheriff's deputy; and Ralph Bryan, who was an officer with Folly Beach at the time, over claims of unlawful arrest and assault.
It's unclear if Bryan is still employed with Folly Beach Public Safety. He could not be reached for comment.
Sandy Senn, who represents the Sheriff's Office said it's frustrating when police get falsely accused of misconduct.
"But in this day and age, there are videotapes everywhere because cellphones are everywhere," Senn said. "Police expect they'll be recorded, and videotapes, 99 percent of the time, show officers doing exactly what they're supposed to do, just like they did in this case with Mr. Ricker."
Davis, 28, has since left the Sheriff's Office and no longer works in law enforcement.
The suit, which was filed April 11 in Charleston County court also claims Ricker suffered false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and gross negligence.
Ricker was on Folly Beach April 15, 2012, when he alleges he became concerned while watching police officers arresting a man, the complaint stated.
A two-minute video titled "Police doing wrong!?, Charleston, SC," shot by another bystander and viewed more than 48,000 times, shows a shirtless Ricker holding his cellphone while recording the two Folly Beach officers struggling to arrest a man on the beach.
The scene caught the attention of several other people, who crowded around the man and the officers.
Ricker alleges he never interfered with the officers, according to the complaint.
More officers arrived on scene to assist, the complaint stated.
Ricker alleges while videotaping the event, Davis "aggressively charged toward him and, without warning, forcefully tackled him to the ground," the complaint stated.
Ricker alleges that while Davis held him down, Bryan shot him with a stun gun.
Ricker's attorney, Matt Yelverton, said his client was attacked without justification.
"This was an act of aggression, unjustified act of aggression toward Ricker," Yelverton said. "It was unacceptable."
Davis said Friday in a phone interview that Ricker's claims are "ridiculous."
"You can clearly see in the video he put his hand on me," Davis said.
Davis alleges Ricker reached out with his hand and made contact with his chest, which is shown in the cellphone video posted online.
"I put him on the ground," Davis said. "He's a real big dude and he refused to turn over, and I think that's when he got tazed."
Davis also alleges that Ricker was drunk and slurring his words through the ordeal.
Ricker was charged with disorderly conduct, but the charge was later dismissed, according to Yelverton.
Yelverton alleges Davis and Bryan deleted the cellphone video shot by Ricker after he was arrested, the complaint stated.
"We've alleged that rather than take responsibility for what was excessive force, the officers took it to the next level by being untruthful in the account of what occurred," Yelverton said. "That to me is a very serious problem."
The incident began when officers were called to the Tides hotel to check on reports of some men urinating in a sink, a trash can and on the floor of an exterior bathroom, according to Folly Beach Public Safety Chief Dennis Brown. The officers issued warnings to the men they found, but one of the individuals did not comply, authorities said.
This is not the first lawsuit targeting Davis. In 2012, the former deputy was placed on leave after he was accused of roughing up Devante Pittman, 21, of West Ashley, during a traffic stop off Orleans Road, according to investigators.
Pittman told investigators Davis started hitting him, but Davis' attorney at the time, Andy Savage, said Pittman first grabbed Davis, so he fought back in self-defense. Davis resigned from the Sheriff's Office in 2013. He was charged with third-degree assault and battery after he was accused of using excessive force against Pittman, but the charge was dismissed after he completed community service, Davis said.
Pittman filed a lawsuit against Davis and the Sheriff's Office and as part of an agreement, the county paid $250,000 in damages to Pittman.
Davis said Ricker is most likely targeting him because of his past.
"He probably thinks he can get money out of it," Davis said.
But Davis, who said he's moved on from that incident, has been focusing his time on his family and said he was upset to hear he's being named in a suit.
"I'm not going to let somebody put my name out there and not defend myself," he said. "Ricker knows what happened."
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