The defense attorney for a former Kershaw County sheriff's deputy accused of beating a handcuffed detainee said his client welcomes the chance for a jury to watch a now widely viewed video of the incident.
The federal trial for Oddie Tribble, who was fired from his job as a sheriff's deputy after the beating, began Thursday morning in U.S. District Court in Columbia. Tribble is accused of violating the civil rights of Charles Shelley, a detainee in Tribble's custody.
The incident, which happened in August, was captured by security cameras installed in a carport where deputies unload suspects before booking them into the Kershaw County Detention Center.
Greg Harris, one of the three lawyers on Tribble's defense team, said during opening statements that his client used his service baton because he felt threatened. Tribble drew on 23 years of law enforcement experience to make a split-second decision about his safety, Harris said.
Police "are trained to respond in a matter of seconds to things on the street that we can't imagine," Harris said.
Federal prosecutor Christopher Lomax said Tribble had no legitimate reason to use his baton to break Shelley's leg and cause cuts that required stitches. During the ride to the jail, Shelley was obnoxious and made inappropriate comments to Tribble, Lomax said.
However, deputies are not permitted to use force against a suspect who is simply making threats, Lomax said.
"He never went beyond words, and he never tried to assault anyone," Lomax said.
The jury of eight women and five men must decide whether Tribble had a legitimate reason to use force to protect himself or if he acted maliciously or sadistically to hurt Shelley.
The trial is expected to last four days.
Witnesses on Thursday morning included the Kershaw County Detention Center Director Peggy Spivey, the former training officer from the Kershaw County Sheriff's Department and the man who designed and installed the security video system at the jail.
Shelley and Tribble are expected to testify during the trial.
Surveillance video from the Kershaw County Detention Center