South Carolina deputy fired after video of brutal arrest goes viral

A South Carolina sheriff’s deputy was fired last week over a surveillance video showed five officers subduing a suspect and punching him while he was on the ground, WSPA reported.

James Pregel was fired for “conduct unbecoming” related to the August 1 incident captured by cameras at Simuns Tire and Brake in Greenville. Nick Simmons, the shop’s owner, invited sheriff’s deputies to watch the video and posted both that video and the videos of the takedown on Facebook. Video of that deputies watching the other videos shows the officers laughing at the incident, and one officer tells Simmons it is acceptable for them to punch suspects in the face.

The State reported that the arrested man was Zebbie Hudgens, charged with driving under suspension, improper or defective tail lights, interfering with police and resisting arrest. Video shows Hudgens attempt to get away from police and then being tackled by one officer, who is quickly joined by a second officer, and the two have him under control. But three more officers join in, and at least one can be seen punching Hudgens in the head while the man is held down on his back.

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WSPA said the videos were viewed more than 100,000 times.

According to the Greenville News, Pregel’s file from the state Criminal Justice Academy says that the deputy was “willfully making false, misleading, incomplete, deceitful or incorrect statements” as it related to the arrest. Greenville County Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown told WSPA that Pregel was appealing the termination.

Hudgens was hospitalized after the arrest, the Greenville News reported. Activist Traci Fant, who is working with Hudgens’ attorney, told WSPA that the sheriff’s office told them other deputies involved “were very heavily reprimanded, but of course they didn’t tell us what that reprimand was.”

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