You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
top story

Greenville deputy's bodycam footage shows handcuffed man's head slammed by car door

  • Updated
Deputy car door

A screen capture from a video showing a handcuffed man being removed from a Greenville County Sheriff's Office vehicle. Later in the video the man falls to the ground and the car door is closed on his head.

GREENVILLE — Body camera video circulating that shows a handcuffed man's head being slammed with a car door as he's being arrested by a Greenville County Sheriff deputy has prompted public calls for an investigation, but the agency said it has already determined the act wasn't intentional.

The video surrounds the April 2019 arrest of Stephon Hopkins and was distributed on Feb. 23 by Black Lives Matter activist Bruce Wilson, who has demanded the deputy be fired.

In the video, Hopkins is seen resisting Sgt. Jacob Walters as the deputy drags him from the back of the patrol car onto the pavement outside the Greenville County Detention Center. Hopkins shouts obscenities as he complains that the deputy used handcuffs as a weapon to punch him. 

Hopkins is then seen lying on the ground with his head partially resting on the door frame when the car door is slammed on his head. 

Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Ryan Flood told The Post and Courier that a supervisor reviewed the arrest and determined that Walters didn't use excessive force. 

The review was done under what the agency calls a "response to aggression analysis," Flood said. Under the protocol, a commander reviews the arrest. The process isn't the same as a formal complaint from a citizen.

For there to be a formal internal affairs investigation, Sheriff's Office policy requires a complaint to be filed by the person who has an objection, whether in-person or by phone. The complaint can't be logged by a third party, he said.

Sign up for weekly roundups of our top stories, news and culture from the Upstate. This newsletter is hand-curated by a member of our Greenville news staff.


Hopkins hadn't filed a complaint in the time since the April 22, 2019, arrest, Flood said.

“I understand if people feel whichever way they feel," Flood told The Post and Courier, "but it’s our determination — as of right now without conducting any internal investigation because the guy has not come to speak with us — that the incident was not intentional.”

On Feb. 23, Wilson made public a notarized letter in which Hopkins asks for an investigation into the conduct of Walters and another deputy.

In a letter a week earlier to Sheriff Hobart Lewis, Wilson demanded Walters be fired.

“You can tell looking at that video that it was intentional," Wilson told The Post and Courier. "There was ongoing aggression. Just look at Mr. Hopkins’ face."

Wilson said that Hopkins hasn't filed a complaint himself because he didn't want to go in person and face intimidation. Wilson said that he might have Hopkins call, but he said that a formal complaint shouldn't have to be filed.

"It would be different if this was he said, she said, but this is evidence on camera," Wilson said.

Follow Eric on Twitter at @cericconnor.

Reporter/Local Editor

Eric is a reporter and local editor for The Post and Courier in Greenville. Previously with The Greenville News, he's covered the Upstate for two decades and served as a USA TODAY correspondent. He studied journalism at the University of South Carolina.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Breaking News

Columbia Breaking News

Greenville Breaking News

Myrtle Beach Breaking News

Aiken Breaking News