GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) – A former Greenville County deputy was charged on Friday after a SLED investigation into an arrest he made in the summer of 2020, and officials say he has ties to two other incidents involving use of force.
SLED charged Ryan Gibson, 29, with assault and battery third degree, misconduct, and misconduct in office. The former lawman turned himself in at the Greenville County Law Enforcement Center around 11:30 a.m. on Friday, according to his attorney, who did not want to give further comment.
Gibson was granted a bond of $21,000 on during a hearing on Friday, with $10,000 for misconduct, $10,000 for misconduct in office and $1,000 for assault.
At the hearing, Gibson's attorney said that he is not a flight risk and has no previous criminal history.
"He doesn't want to be anywhere else," the attorney said. "He wants to be here in Greenville County. He went from Greenville County Sheriff's Office to SLED and he came back to Greenville County. He's all about Greenville County."
Also present at the hearing was Benny Jones, the man whose arrest later led to the charges against former deputy Gibson. Jones says that Gibson should be treated as a normal person and not as a law enforcement officer, as he did not act like a law enforcement officer on the day of the incident.
"This was a... very terrifying act that happened to me," Jones said. "This changed the lives of me and my children very drastically. I listened to the lawyer say all those nice things about him, but on July 25th - he didn't take into consideration that he had those things going for him."
Gibson’s arrest comes after Jones, along with community activist Traci Fant, filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office, alleging that Gibson had wrongfully arrested Jones and used excessive force to subdue him during a July 25, 2020 encounter. The arrest came after Jones said he stopped to observe a traffic stop deputies were in the middle of, involving an acquaintance.
According to arrest warrants, Gibson is accused of hitting the victim with his legs and hands. Gibson is also accused of neglected his duties when he "affected an unlawful arrest."
Sheriff Hobart Lewis confirmed that Gibson was terminated on August 5 after their Office of Professional Standards launched an internal investigation. The sheriff said the termination was for Conduct Unbecoming, Violation of General Order 229 dealing with improper criminal process and Violation of General Order 205 relating to excessive use of force.
On Friday, Lewis released this statement on Gibson's arrest:
“While the incident was extremely unfortunate, I am very grateful for Ms. Fant and her activism, by bringing this incident to our attention and communicating the proper methods for filing a grievance against a GCSO employee. As seen in the investigation, our investigators within our Office of Professional Standards conducted a thorough and timely investigation and resolved the matter with a sustained complaint.”
Sheriff Lewis also confirmed Gibson was the deputy who pulled the trigger in the 2017 deadly shooting of Jason Mendez outside the Super Lodge Inn and Suites on Mauldin Road. The Sheriff's Office said deputies were doing extra patrols around the motel when they came across a car with a stolen tag with two people inside. Within two minutes, backup arrived on scene and a deputy can be seen in the video busting out the windows of the car before opening fire. Jason Mendez died on scene in the car.
The solicitor's office reviewed the 2017 case and said the use of deadly force was justified and Mendez refused to follow commands. The deputies involved, including Gibson, were cleared and returned to duty.
A spokesperson for the City of Greenville said before he worked for the Sheriff's Office, Gibson was employed with the Greenville Police Department from January 2014 to October 2016.
While he worked with Greenville PD, Gibson was accused of excessive force after the 2015 arrest of Jaquan Williams, which was recorded on dashcam. Ken Miller, who was the police chief at the time, said Gibson initiated a traffic stop and smelled marijuana in the car. Williams was taken into custody after the Sheriff's Office said Gibson found drugs in the vehicle.
Part of the interaction during the 2015 arrest occurs off camera and is not visible in the dashcam video. Miller told FOX Carolina at the time that Gibson maintained he was conducting a routine search of the suspect and that's when Williams' hit his face on the ground. Williams chipped a tooth and had another tooth that was loosened during the incident. The excessive force allegation claimed Williams was slammed into the ground, causing his teeth to be knocked out.
The Greenville Police Department said when Gibson left the agency in 2016, it was voluntary.
An attorney for Gibson said he left the Greenville County Sheriff's Office to work for SLED during his career, but later returned to work for Greenville County again.