GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Five deputies with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office are facing a federal civil rights lawsuit that alleges a man was unlawfully arrested at his home, claims the deputies used unnecessary and excessive force during the arrest, and says that the man’s first amendment rights were violated.
The five deputies involved in the lawsuit include Deputy Jonathon Cooper, Deputy James Berggrun, Deputy Charles Lancaster, Deputy John Thomas Edwards, and Sergeant Michael Kastner. The plaintiff in this case is listed as Thomas Charles Felton Jones.
The lawsuit shows the arrest happened on July 21, 2018 off of Lyncrest Street in Greenville County.
That’s when courts documents claim deputies Cooper and Lancaster stopped one of Jones’ friends in his front yard for running a stop sign.
This was a part of an ‘aggressive patrol special operations task force’ that was used by the deputies when policing the neighborhoods, according to the lawsuit.
It goes on to say that’s when Jones went in to the front yard to ask why his friend was pulled over and started recording the event on his phone.
The lawsuit states the officer responded to Jones’ question, then radioed for backup.
That’s when one of the deputies approached him in an aggressive manner asking him to leave the scene and told him to back up or be arrested for interfering, according to the suit. Jones said that’s when Edwards, Kastner, and Berggrun arrived at the scene.
Court documents allege Jones did back up— but not as far as the deputies wanted him to, so the quote ‘entire aggressive patrol unit then rushed Jones.’
The suit claims the deputies then beat Jones, pushed his face onto the ground, and then tased him until he was unconscious. EMS arrived at the scene to evaluate Jones before he was taken to the Greenville County Detention Center.
According to court documents, Jones was never armed during the altercation, nor does it state that the deputies believed he was at the time.
Jones was later acquitted of assaulting an officer but was found guilty of interfering with police.
Jones’ attorney, Kyle J White sent 7 News a statement reading in part: ‘due to the nature of pending litigation, we cannot comment much beyond the allegations of the pleadings at this time, but we firmly stand by those allegations.’
In an April deposition, two of the deputies acknowledged that the unit was called the ‘aggressive patrol unit.’
7 News reached out to the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office for comment on the lawsuit, we are still waiting to hear back.
According to court documents, the defendants have until October 18th to respond to the court summons.