WARNING: Body camera footage contains graphic language.
(GREENVILLE COUNTY, SC/FOX CAROLINA) - The Greenville County Sheriff's Office and a man whose arrest was caught on body camera footage in 2019 are weighing in on the dramatic video.
Stepjon Hopkins was taken into custody on April 22, 2019 after two 911 calls were placed from a home on Athelone Avenue.
Deputies said Hopkins refused verbal commands and interfered with the investigation before trying to run away. According to the Sheriff's Office, the responding deputy used a Taser on Hopkins, but it had no effect and Hopkins pulled the Taser probes out of his shoulder.
Hopkins alleges in the body camera video and in an interview with FOX Carolina News that a deputy hit him in the face with a pair of handcuffs, worn like brass knuckles during the arrest.
The Sheriff's Office confirmed the deputy struck Hopkins once in the face, but said it was after Hopkins wrapped his arms around the deputy's waist.
Once Hopkins was taken into custody, body camera footage released by Fighting Injustice Together shows a deputy pulling Hopkins out of the back of a patrol car at the Sheriff's Office. As Hopkins lands on the ground, a struggle takes place. During the incident, a car door closes on Hopkin's head.
Stephon 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, Hopkins tells the deputy, "Alright, I’m out of your car. Oh lord! Oh yeah, I’m on camera. I'm on camera."
Nearly two years after the incident, Hopkins said the incident still frightens him.
"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."
Hopkins said the deputy used excessive force, but the Sheriff's Office disagrees.
In a report written by the deputy involved, he said, "I went to close the door and he rolled and put his head in the way of the door, not causing any injury."
The Greenville County Sheriff's Office released this statement to FOX Carolina:
"While we are aware of the letter that was sent out, we would require Mr. Hopkins to come forward to file a formal complaint with our office of professional standards so they can speak with him, gather all necessary information and be able to conduct a full and thorough investigation into the matter.
Following the initial incident an RTA (Response to Aggression) Analysis was completed by the corresponding division commander that found the use of force administered was not unnecessary and it is in our determination that the unfortunate circumstance involving Mr. Hopkins’ complaint was not intentional."
Community activist Bruce Wilson said this never should have happened.
"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."
Hopkins was charged with resisting arrest with assault after the incident and had an active warrant for failure to appear.
On Mar. 2, Lt. Ryan Flood said the sheriff's office is investigating internally and GCSO has requested SLED to also conduct an investigation of their own. The deputy is on administrative duty pending the investigation.
In a news conference Hopkins held with activist group Fighting Injustice Together on Mar. 2, he said he was suffering from "head trauma issues" and other health problems since the incident.