Deputy’s report said a suspect was resisting before being tased, pepper sprayed. Video shows otherwise.

Union Co. Sheriff's Office sued for excessive force

MONROE, N.C. (WBTV) – A written narrative describing the violent arrest of a man by Union County Deputies in April 2019 lays out a chain of events at odds with what was captured on video.

The arrest — which involved deputies punching, pepper spraying and tasing a man— is now the subject of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed last week.

In a written narrative of the arrest, obtained by WBTV, deputies claimed the use of force was justified because the man was resisting arrest. The video of the incident shows otherwise.

Deputies stopped Dustin Parrish after they noticed him riding in the passenger seat of a car driven by a woman who had a restraining order against him on April 1, 2019.

Video of the incident shows deputies approached the vehicle, asked Parrish to get out of the car and he tried to run away.

Parrish only got a few feet before deputies tackled him and held him on the ground, video shows.

A third deputy arrived on scene shortly after Parrish was tackled. Video from that deputy’s dash camera shows the deputy running up to Parrish—with the other two deputies on top of him—and repeatedly punching Parrish.

In a narrative of the incident written by the third deputy to arrive on scene, identified as T. Mills, the deputy wrote Parrish “was actively struggling and fighting officers, refused to comply with verbal commands, so I hit the male several times in the right side of the head.”

Mills wrote that Parrish continued to struggle, even after being repeatedly punched in the head.

“I gave more verbal commands while struggling to gain control of the male’s right arm. Deputy Belk advised to move, he was going to deploy his taser. Deputy Helms and I moved away from the male and Deputy Belk deployed his taser,” Mills wrote.

Video from Mills’ own dashcam shows one deputy get up from the ground, draw his taser and the other two deputies move from Parrish. When they did, Parrish was kneeling on the ground facing away from the deputies with his hands behind his back. Seconds after the deputies backed up—while Parrish was still kneeling with his hands behind his back—the third deputy fired his taser.

Next, the video shows, Parrish fell to the ground briefly before using one arm to push himself back up while keeping his other arm behind his back. As soon as Parrish was off the ground, he placed his second arm behind his back.

As he continued to kneel on the ground away from the deputies with his hands behind his back, the video shows another deputy spray him in the face with pepper spray.

But Mills’ narrative of the incident describes things differently.

“The male after being tased raised up continuing to resist and not comply with commands, so Deputy Helms sprayed OC spray into the males face,” Mills wrote.

“The OC spray seemed to make the male mad and he continued to not comply with commands to lie face down on the ground with his hands behind his back. Deputy Belk deployed the second cartridge from his taser into the male’s back.”

The video shows that, after he was sprayed with pepper spray, Parrish took one hand from behind his back and used it to wipe his face with his shirt. When he was finished, he put his hand behind his back.

At the time Parrish was hit with the second taser cartridge, the video shows, Parrish was still kneeling away from the deputies with his hands behind his back.

The lawsuit filed last week accuses the Union County Sheriff’s Office of depriving Parrish of his civil liberties by using excessive force.

According to the lawsuit, Sheriff Eddie Cathey was on scene for a portion of the incident.

Reached for comment last week, a spokesman for Cathey said the Sheriff had not seen the lawsuit and declined to answer questions for this story or provide a statement.

But Cathey did answer questions about Parrish’s arrest and the lawsuit in an interview last week with the Charlotte Observer.

In his interview, Cathey said Parrish assaulted one of the deputies on the scene. None of the videos of the incident reviewed by WBTV shows Parrish assaulting a deputy, including when he tried to run at the beginning of the traffic stop.

“(Parrish) created the violence when he assaulted an officer before I got there,” Parrish told the Observer.

Cathey also told the Observer that Parrish resisted arrest and ignored the deputies’ orders.

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