Current, former Lincoln Co. deputies charged after violent arrest

Incident first uncovered by WBTV investigation.
Body camera footage shows a Lincoln County Sheriff's deputy but his hand around a suspect's throat during a violent arrest last May.
Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 11:45 AM EST
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LINCOLNTON, N.C. (WBTV) – A current and former deputy with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office have been charged with assault for their actions in a violent arrest last May.

Former LCSO deputy Tyler Thompson and current LCSO sergeant Joe Sutton were both charged Thursday morning.

Thompson is charged with assault inflicting serious injury. Sutton is charged with simple assault.

The charges were taken out by an agent with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, culminating a months-long investigation that only began after a WBTV investigation first exposed the incident last August.

Rutherford County District Attorney Ted Bell is handling the criminal case against both men.

Thompson pulled over a driver he suspected of being drunk in late May 2022. The driver pulled into his driveway and tried to go into his house instead of complying with Thompson, body camera video of the incident shows.

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

Thompson punched the suspect multiple times in the face.

In his write-up of the incident, Thompson recounted dropping Green to the ground with a leg sweep, punching him in the face a total of six times, using a taser on Green and delivering two knee strikes to his lower back, all in an effort, he wrote, to place Green under arrest.

Sutton, the sergeant, arrived on the scene after the suspect was in handcuffs and sitting peacefully on the tailgate of a truck.

Body camera video shows Sutton put his hand around the suspect’s throat while the suspect’s hands are cuffed behind his back.

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

Later, the body camera video shows, Sutton shoved the suspect face-first into an ambulance.

After the incident, Thompson said Sutton - his direct supervisor - told him to change his write-up of the incident to change the description of the force he used on the suspect.

Thompson spoke with WBTV last August in hopes blowing the whistle would prompt an SBI investigation.

At the time, Thompson had contacted the SBI to detail his concerns with Sutton’s conduct.

Emails obtained by WBTV show the SBI contacted Lincoln County District Attorney Mike Miller to relay Thompson’s report and seek authorization to investigate. Miller did not authorize an investigation until after WBTV’s investigation exposed the incident.

Thompson was fired by Sheriff Bill Beam. Sutton received a three-day suspension. A spokesperson has since stated that Sutton remains employed at the sheriff’s office.