Video of violent Lincoln Co. arrest released over objection from sheriff, DA

WBTV Investigates: Reporter petitioned for release after whistleblower spoke out
WBTV has been investigating claims of excess force during the arrest.
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 3:01 PM EDT
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LINCOLNTON, N.C. (WBTV) - A judge ordered the release of body-worn camera footage showing the violent arrest of Barry Spencer Green by Lincoln County sheriff’s deputies on May 28, 2022.

WBTV has been investigating excessive force allegations related to the arrest since Monday, when we first spoke with Tyler Thompson, a former deputy who was fired one day after calling the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to report his concerns about Green’s arrest.

Two deputies used force during the event: Thompson, who made the arrest, and his supervisor, Sergeant Joe Sutton.

The footage from the May arrest was released Aug. 12.

In his report to the SBI, Thompson said Sutton made him change word in his report to more favorably reflect Sutton’s actions.

Sutton was suspended for three days for his use of force in the incident. Before being fired, Thompson was suspended for one day.

The Lincoln County district attorney requested the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to investigate the incident on Monday, seven days after he was first contacted by the SBI and one business day after WBTV asked why he had not authorized an investigation sooner.

Previous: He reported his supervisor choking a handcuffed man. Then he was fired.

WBTV’s Chief Investigative Reporter Nick Ochsner petitioned a judge to release video of the incident.

Sheriff Bill Beam and DA Mike Miller both opposed release.

In a written objection filed in response to Ochsner’s petition on Thursday, Beam said “the Petitioner has certainly failed to provide any evidence of a compelling public interest necessitating the release of the Recording.”

Beam’s attorney reiterated that position in court on Friday morning.

WBTV's Chief Investigative Reporter was first to uncover reports of excessive force from this arrest.

Lincoln County Attorney Megan Gilbert told a judge that release of the video “would harm the reputation of the Sheriff and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office as a whole.”

Despite his court filing and the statements by his attorney in court on Friday, Beam issued a statement after a judge ordered the video released that said he wanted the public to see the video.

“The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office welcomes both the release of the body worn camera footage and the SBI investigation,” the statement said.

Previous: Lincoln Co. DA requests SBI investigation after WBTV exposes excessive force allegations

Miller, the district attorney, told a judge he thought the video would tell the full story of what happened during Green’s arrest but then asked a judge to not grant Ochsner’s request to release the video.

“I rise today not because I’m trying to cover anything up. I rise because I’m concerned we’re going to see more sub-par reporting,” Miller said.

During his remarks in Court on Friday, Miller defended taking seven days to authorize the SBI to investigate Thompson’s complaint of excessive force.

“I had to think on that,” Miller said of whether Thompson’s allegations warranted review by the state’s investigative agency. He also pushed back on Thompson’s report that Sutton choked Green while Green was handcuffed, saying “that’s not really what I’ve seen in the video.”

After court, both Beam and Thompson said the video would speak for itself.

WARNING: These videos may be considered graphic. They may be viewed here.

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