Greenville, SC — Body camera footage from an incident which took place in 2019 has just been released as part of an investigation into a complaint of excessive force. The video has sparked outrage online as it shows a deputy from the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office shut his car door on a man’s head and face.
The video shows the arrest of Stephon Hopkins in April 2019 and was just released this week by Black Lives Matter activist Bruce Wilson, who has demanded the deputy be fired. Hopkins wrote a written complaint against the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, saying the deputy slammed his head in a car door.
In the video, which is silent for the first thirty seconds due to the delayed recording on the body camera, Hopkins is accusing the deputy of using his handcuffs like “brass knuckles” and punching him in the face.
The Sheriff’s Office confirmed the deputy struck Hopkins in the face, but said it was after Hopkins wrapped his arms around the deputy’s waist.
After a verbal exchange, the deputy tries to remove Hopkins from the vehicle but Hopkins pulls away. That’s when the deputy grabs the man by his shorts and drags him to the ground.
After he is dragged from the car Hopkins tells the deputy, “Alright, I’m out of your car.”
As Hopkins lies on the pavement with his hands cuffed behind his back, the deputy then slams the door on his face.
“Oh lord! Oh yeah, I’m on camera. I’m on camera,” Hopkins says after the door hit him in the face.
Hopkins told FOX Carolina that despite the incident happening two years ago, he is still scared of police and haunted by what happened to him that day.
“I was just scared,” he said. “I really thought the officer was going to kill me. He had already punched me in the face with handcuffs. I was just terrified.”
After slamming the man’s head in the door, the deputy wrote in his report that Hopkins — who was handcuffed behind his back — deliberately put his head in the way, forcing the deputy to slam his head in the door.
“I went to close the door and he rolled and put his head in the way of the door, not causing any injury,” the deputy wrote in his report.
“I understand if people feel whichever way they feel,” Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ryan 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.”
Wilson, who released the video, disagrees and made public a notarized letter in which Hopkins asks for an investigation into the conduct of the deputy.
“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.”
“That makes absolutely no sense for them to say this is justified. This man was handcuffed and you’re saying we’re not going to investigate it,” Wilson said, “Even if he files what you call an official complaint you’ve already told him what you’re going to do. You’re going to say that the officer was justified in slamming a door on a handcuffed man’s head and that’s okay.”
After punching Hopkins in the face and slamming his head in the door, the sheriff’s office charged him with resisting arrest and assault on an officer. TFTP contacted the sheriff’s office to ask if body camera footage showing the alleged assault exists. We have not received a response.