GPD officer fired for use of excessive force during arrest

By CATHERINE KIRK CKIRK@DDTONLINE.COM,

An officer with the Greenville Police Department has been fired for using excessive force during an arrest Thursday afternoon.

The announcement was made Friday afternoon via Facebook Live from inside the Greenville Police Department. During the announcement, Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons and Greenville Police Chief Delando Wilson spoke on the incident.

At 2:58 p.m. Thursday, Wilson said officers responded to Budget Inn, 700 Mississippi 1 S., for a domestic disturbance where a female was allegedly being assaulted.

“Once the officers arrived on scene, they determined (Richard) Miller was possibly the suspect. During the detention of Mr. Miller, this incident occurred, resulting to where we are right now,” Wilson said.

In a 17-second long video shared on Facebook, a GPD officer is shown picking up Miller, who was handcuffed, slamming him onto the pavement and then hitting Miller’s head.

GPD is not releasing the name of the former officer at this time.

In the video, Miller can also be heard saying, “I got shot.”

Assistant Police Chief Michael Merchant said Miller had allegedly been shot by a pellet gun by the female involved in the domestic disturbance before officers arrived.

Wilson said once they heard about the incident, GPD’s internal affairs division immediately began to investigate.

“They worked all throughout the night to make sure they had all the facts, all of the details of the incident,” Wilson said.

Wilson said there was a hearing today with the officer involved in the video and as a result, the officer was terminated.

“We felt that excessive force was used in this incident. Thank God there weren’t any major injuries,” Wilson said. “At the Greenville Police Department, we want to be transparent. We’re going to be transparent. We’re going to do what we need to do to protect our citizens, regain our citizens’ trust and provide the best service we can possibly give them and the service they deserve."

Wilson said this arrest was not a reflection of how GPD officers are trained to handle situations. 

“Greenville Police Department has some great police officers. They are dedicated to protecting the city and its citizens and this incident is not indicative of our behavior and culture at Greenville Police Department,” Wilson said. “There are several ways this situation could have been handled.”

Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons said he applauds GPD for their quick response to the incident and getting it resolved.

“We’re less than 24 hours from the incident and a quick decision has been made in terminating this officer with this excessive force,” Simmons said.

Simmons said although the video is not a complete video, “What we did see was appalling and disturbing.”

“It is our goal to build trust between law enforcement and the communities that they serve. We must understand that our government interest and law enforcement interest and the community interest all align together. We want to have hopeful, healthy, safe communities and cities and we do that by doing three things: One, we have to be transparent. We have to be transformative and more importantly, we have to have trust and build trust in the community. Thursday’s incident involving Richard Miller did not do that.”