New witness video shows S.C. officer with knee on neck area of man during arrest

Published: Jun. 8, 2020 at 8:32 AM EDT
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Monday, June 8, 2020

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) -- WIS has obtained video of a Columbia police officer putting his knee on the neck area of a man during an arrest.

The arrest happened during recent protests in downtown Columbia. Police have not said why the man was arrested.

A witness to the arrest, who wants to remain anonymous, shared video he captured on his cell phone with WIS on Friday. Earlier in the day, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin released body camera footage from the Columbia Police Department showing another viewpoint of the arrest.


Video shows a man on the ground as officers attempt to handcuff him. Officers can be heard telling the man to stop resisting.

The man who started recording the arrest on his cell phone said he thought something wasn’t right.

“Just had an ill feeling about the entire situation,” he told WIS. “Something just told me to get out. That’s when I started seeing that they were getting a little aggressive so I said I’ll just go over and record.”

The witness said he saw a concerning similarity to the case of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis after an officer kept a knee on his neck for nearly 10 minutes.

“As soon as you come around the side, you see an officer with a knee on the individual’s neck,” he said. “The same thing just killed a man.”

He added: “The other two (officers) didn’t interfere. They didn’t say, ‘move your knee,’ considering what just happened. They continued what they are doing, telling him, ‘stop resisting.’”

The witness’ video shows the officer put his knee on the man’s neck. About 20 seconds later, the officer is seen removing his knee from the man’s neck area. However, it’s not clear if the officer’s knee was in place in between those moments.

Other parts of the video show the officer’s knee clearly on the ground.

The body camera video that the mayor released Friday is from an officer who was next to the arrest and not the officer who appears to put his knee of the man’s neck area, which made it hard to see the arrest clearly.

“If we’re held accountable, the police need to be held accountable as well,” the witness added.

CPD said the reason the officers who made the arrest were not wearing body cameras was because they are SWAT and carry rifles. The department did order helmet cameras for these officers, but they have not yet deployed those.

Mayor Benjamin said he was concerned when he heard something like this may have happened and he went to CPD to talk to Chief Skip Holbrook.

Holbrook told Benjamin he had conducted a “full review” of the body cam video.

“I saw a hostile situation. I saw officers working to do their jobs. I saw a slip-up. I’ll leave it to the chief to address it appropriately,” Mayor Benjamin said.

Mayor Benjamin stated Saturday evening that he has seen additional photos from The State and two videos of the incident. “If you look at the video that was sent to you, it’ll show you a lot. Look at the entire video,” he said.

CPD later released a statement on the arrest, saying the officer in question is still at work after officials looked into the videos.

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