The images of fists pummeling a suspect on the ground before a police dog takes a bite has sparked a debate among Lowcountry residents about the use of force.

Some say Charleston County deputies were justified in subduing a driver after a high-speed chase through East Cooper.

Others say a video of the incident shows deputies overreacted and were out of control.

The video of 31-year-old Timothy Shawn McManus' arrest Monday shows deputies punching him to the ground, then allowing a dog to bite him repeatedly, which contradicted Sheriff Al Cannon's earlier report that McManus was trying to run when he was caught by the dog. Also earlier this week, Cannon admitted to slapping the handcuffed driver as he sat in a cruiser.

McManus faces charges of reckless driving, failure to stop for blue lights and sirens, resisting arrest and third-offense driving under suspension.

Many of the people who commented on the story and video at postandcourier.com and on the The Post and Courier's Facebook page defended the deputies' actions.

"He put lives in danger," one said of McManus. "The police did what was right."

"It is good anytime a motorist such as this one is taken down," another said.

Some who commented were shocked by McManus' treatment and said deputies should have stopped short of allowing the dog to bite him.

"They completely overreacted, beat the living daylights out of the guy -- as they are pulling him out of his car -- and then to make matters even worse they let the dog maul him," one said.

"I'm not saying this guy didn't do something wrong," another said, "but the cops were out of control."

No deputies had been placed on leave at any point after the chase, which ended with Cannon and two other deputies shooting out tires of the speeding Dodge pickup, sheriff's spokesman Capt. Eric Watson said. Cannon said the deputies were back on the road the day after the incident.

Cannon said the pursuit began when his personal sport utility vehicle, which has a light and siren, was nearly struck by McManus about 9:45 a.m. Monday on U.S. Highway 17 near Mount Pleasant. McManus' pickup reached speeds of 120 mph during the chase, which ended near Awendaw.

After the Dodge was disabled on Steed Creek Road, video from a dashboard camera shows a deputy punching McManus five times. Once McManus appears to be subdued on the ground, a dog is unleashed on him. The dog's jaw grips McManus for about 23 seconds.

Victoria Middleton, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina, said the ACLU would stand back and watch what sheriff's and State Law Enforcement Division investigations produce.

"The video is disturbing," Middleton said in a statement. "The investigation needs to thoroughly probe the appropriateness of the police actions. We question whether there could be any justification for releasing the K-9 in a situation like this."

Initial reports filed by the Sheriff's Office state that McManus was "apprehended" by the police dog. Watson declined to comment on the incident, the reports or the video, which was picked up and broadcast by CNN.

The report said McManus tried to spit on deputies after he was restrained. Cannon said he then slapped and cursed at McManus out of anger for putting people's lives in danger. The video does not show that incident, which happened while McManus was in the back of a deputy's cruiser.

"We don't have anything to hide," Watson said. "That's why the sheriff came forward with what occurred. ... That's why we released the video."

Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or on Twitter at @offlede.