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Sarah Welliver

COLUMBIA -- During a 10-minute ride to the Kershaw County jail, sheriff's Sgt. Oddie Tribble said he sat quietly fuming as an intoxicated, belligerent inmate peppered him with insults about his job and made repeated threats against his wife and daughter.

By the end of that ride, Tribble's patience had worn thin. Using his department-issue metal baton, the military veteran struck inmate Charles Shelley 27 times, breaking the handcuffed man's leg in an attack caught on jailhouse surveillance cameras.

On Thursday, a federal jury convicted Tribble of violating the man's civil rights.

Jurors deliberated more than 11 hours over two days before returning with the verdict against Tribble, who will be allowed to remain free on bond until he is sentenced May 12. He faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

Tribble, who had been with the Kershaw County Sheriff's Department for 12 years, was fired in August after the beating video surfaced. Prosecutors argued that Tribble was angry and used unjustified force against the man.

"Oddie Tribble broke Charles Shelley's skin. He broke his leg. And he broke the law," Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara McGregor said during Tribble's weeklong trial. "It does not matter what Charles Shelley said on the ride to the jail. ... Mr. Shelley's words do not justify the use of force by Oddie Tribble."

Tribble testified that he hit Shelley because the inmate was drunk, belligerent and had made threats against the officer's wife and daughter during the ride from the traffic checkpoint where he was arrested and the jail.

"He was going to kill my family," Tribble said during the trial. "He didn't want me, but he wanted my daughter, my wife."

Surveillance video from two cameras showed the handcuffed inmate struggling with an officer at the Kershaw County jail, about 35 miles northeast of Columbia.

Shelley was taken to a hospital for treatment of his leg before he was booked in the jail on a variety of traffic charges, including driving with a suspended license, having an open container of alcohol and possession of marijuana.

Disappointed in the verdict, Tribble's attorneys said they would now focus on his sentencing.

"We hope to demonstrate to the court that what occurred during that 97-second span ... was an absolute anomaly in the life of Oddie Tribble," defense attorney Johnny Gasser said. "He has sacrificed for his country, for his community, and he still has a lot of positive things to add."

Prosecutors said they felt the jury had carefully considered the evidence in a difficult case.

"It's never a good day when a law enforcement officer is convicted of a civil rights abuse," Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Drake said. "Oddie Tribble, we believe, snapped. He's not an ogre. It happened, and he's going to pay for it."