Long before smartphones and YouTube, a shocking video from South Carolina hit the airwaves: A furious white highway patrolman dragging a black woman from her car.
It happened in Clarendon County one January afternoon in 1996. State Trooper Harvey Beckwith was in an unmarked car on Interstate 95 and tried to stop Sandra Antor, who was driving from Florida.
Antor didn’t stop for a few minutes because she wasn’t sure Beckwith was truly a police officer. When she did, Beckwith marched to her door with his gun drawn.
He pointed the gun at her with one hand and yanked her onto the pavement with the other. When he had trouble handcuffing her because of her clothes, he threatened to cut them off. “Roll over and stand your a-up, lady, now! You’re fixin’ to taste liquid hell in a minute!”
The entire scene was captured on Beckwith’s dashboard camera, which at the time was a relatively new phenomenon among police agencies.
The video triggered an uproar, but not for several months. Scratched and bruised, the woman hired a lawyer and filed a formal complaint. When superiors finally checked Beckwith’s video, they fired him. He later made a tearful apology on “Dateline.” She received a $400,000 out-of-court settlement.
Since then, even more graphic videos have surfaced of white law enforcement officers crossing lines with black suspects.
In 2007, The Post and Courier obtained dashboard videos showing Lance Cpl. Alexander Richardson chase a black man through an apartment complex in Columbia. Richardson bumped over curves and passed startled onlookers, including a child. Richardson was later charged with a misdemeanor and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.
Another dashboard video showed Lance Cpl. S.C. Garren run into a suspect and later brag: “Yeah, I hit him. I was trying to hit him.” Garren was later acquitted of charges that he violated the man’s civil rights.
Until Tuesday’s shooting in North Charleston, perhaps the most graphic video was one from a stop at a gas station in Columbia last September.
The dashboard camera captured state trooper Sean Groubert stop Levar Jones for a seat belt violation. Groubert told Jones to get his wallet. When he reached into his car to retrieve it, Groubert shot him.
“What did I do? ... I just got my license, you said get my license,” Jones could be heard in the video. “Why did you shoot me?”
Jones was wounded but not killed and later settled with the state for $285,000.
Groubert was fired, arrested on a charge of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. His case is still working its way through the courts. The video has 2.5 million views on YouTube.