The Columbia police officer who was suspended after a cell phone video surfaced showing the officer hitting a man he was holding on the ground has been placed on administrative duty .
Jennifer Timmons, a department spokeswoman, said Tuesday Investigator Tyrone Pugh has been placed on administrative duty, or desk duty, and not his regular police functions.
Police Chief Skip Holbrook suspended Pugh without pay earlier this year after a 15-second video showed Pugh kneeling on a man who is on the ground and hitting him about the face several times.
Pugh, who has been with the department for eight years, was one of five uniformed Columbia police officers working off duty at Columbia Soundstage on Jan. 18 which was hosting a birthday party. At about 2 a.m. a fight ensued among several young people after the nearly 300 party-goers spilled out onto the sidewalk outside of the venue.
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The five officers, including Pugh, responded to the fight, and Pugh was recorded holding an unidentified male on the ground striking him repeatedly and yells, “Stay on the ground.”
At Holbrook’s request, the State Law Enforcement Division took the lead on the investigation into the incident to see if any charges would be filed against Pugh.
Thom Berry, a SLED spokesman, said Tuesday that the investigation into Pugh's actions are still underway with no mention of any charges currently pending against him.
The incident comes at a time when there is national interest in making body cameras a standard piece of police equipment. About a dozen city police officers in Columbia entertainment districts now have clip-on body cameras, but the vast majority of the department’s officers are still waiting to be equipped with body cameras.
Pugh, and the other four officers at the scene, were not wearing the cameras at the time of the incident.