Lincoln County sheriff's deputy Tyler Thompson was fired last week after reporting to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation that his supervisor, Joe Sutton, had allegedly used excessive force while arresting an impaired driver on May 28.
Thompson and his partner responded to a call about an aggressive driver, Barry Green. The deputies caught up to the suspect just after he pulled into the driveway of his house. Thompson reported that Green appeared to be intoxicated and smelled like alcohol.
The deputies attempted to place Green under arrest, but he resisted. Thompson's report claimed that the suspect shoved the deputies and tried to escape.
Thompson admitted to using force on Green to place him under arrest. He recounted using a leg sweep to get the suspect on the ground. Thompson also punched Green's face six times, kneed his back twice, and used a taser on him.
The deputy stated that once Green was handcuffed, he immediately stopped using force and called the paramedics. While the deputies waited for medical attention, Thompson's supervisor, Sergeant Joe Sutton, arrived on the scene.
Thompson told WBTV that he overheard what sounded like an intense altercation between Sutton and Green. He reported hearing Green say to Sutton, "If you ever touch me again."
According to Thompson, Green attempted to get up from the tailgate of the truck where he was waiting for paramedics. At that point, Thompson stated that both he and Sutton placed their hands on Green's chest to "attempt to get him to sit back down."
Thompson then told the news outlet that the conversation between Green and Sutton escalated and the two men threatened one another. With Green's hands still cuffed behind his back, Thompson alleged that Sutton grabbed Green by the throat.
"The suspect was sitting on the back of the truck and my supervisor grabs him by the throat to the point where it's firm enough to where I hear an audible struggle and it was with his right hand and I'm like, holy crap," Thompson said.
The deputy stated that when the ambulance arrived, he witnessed "Sergeant Sutton place his left hand on Barry's middle upper back and push forward. Barry fell forward and landed inside of the ambulance." Thompson reported that the push caused Green to fall on his face, which was already severely injured.
Thompson stated that he wrote his report based on his bodycam footage and sent it to Sutton for approval. According to the deputy, Sutton requested that he change some of the wording in his report.
"The personal conversation we had while he was giving me these edits in person was because it sounds better," the deputy said.
Thompson received a one-day suspension for what the sheriff's office command staff called an improper use of his taser. Sutton was given a three-day suspension for an unrelated internal affairs investigation.
Thompson reported his supervisor to the SBI, but after a month, he still had not received any updates or requests for an interview. The complaint was ultimately passed along to Lincoln County District Attorney Mike Miller, but an investigation has not been launched.
Thompson stated that on Wednesday afternoon, the major informed him that he was fired for using foul language during an incident in June. "It's not a coincidence, it's not."
He continued, "It was a situation where I felt like if I didn't do something, he would get away with it and the only time bad people get away with bad things is when good people decide to stand by and do nothing."