Two South Carolina firefighters were jailed overnight last month after a heated argument with local deputies took an ugly turn.
West Chester Volunteer Chief Andy Martin, 57, and his brother, Tommy, 61, were both arrested at their homes a full day after the altercation and charged with assault.
Footage of the intense exchange, which took place on Feb. 14, was first obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Herald.
The video shows the Martin brothers scuffling with Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood and his deputies at the scene of a motor vehicle accident.
The fight began when Andy Martin, who said he was the “incident commander,” according to The Herald, requested that a road be shutdown so they could start cleaning up without traffic. First responders were attending to a tractor-trailer that had lost control and slid off the road.
The deputies turned down Martin's request.
The younger Martin then reportedly used the emergency radio to make comments about the 2016 election that may or may not involve Sheriff Underwood seeking a second term.
Underwood and his deputies arrived shortly after Martin made the election remarks.
Although there’s little audio in the following video, it’s plain to see both parties lose their tempers, deputies eventually squaring off with Andy, in the orange vest, and Tommy, in a baseball hat and black jacket:
Tommy Martin reportedly “pushed Sheriff Underwood with his right arm,” according to the official police report.
Soon after that, there was a great deal of pushing and shoving between the brothers and the deputies, ending with Andy Martin being pushed to the ground and later handcuffed.
“Put your hands behind your back,” one of the deputies can be heard shouting in the video.
“This ain’t got nothing to do with 911, we’ve got a wreck out here,” a man can be heard saying.
The State explains the 911 comment: “The comment is an apparent reference to the ongoing 911 dispute between the sheriff’s office and Chester County, according to the police report. Underwood is fighting Chester County Council’s attempts to transfer control of the 911 system from the sheriff’s office to the county government.”
Both brothers can be seen in the video walking around after the altercation, the younger Martin still in handcuffs.
“It’s a bad day in Chester,” someone can be heard saying in the video. “I’ve been on the fire department 40 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Both brothers were arrested a day later at their homes, charged with assault and jailed for the night.
“The state Attorney General’s was asked by Chester County’s fire chiefs to investigate whether Underwood and his deputies committed misconduct in office by interfering with firefighters at the scene. The Attorney General’s office asked the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate, as did Underwood,” The State reported.
The Martin brothers were scheduled to appear in court last week, but the judge has postponed their hearing pending further review. The court is trying to determine if either party is guilty of misconduct.
No new trial date has been set.
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