Former Kershaw County Sheriff's deputy Oddie Tribble spent nearly two hours on the witness stand in federal court Tuesday morning as he explained why he needed to use his metal police baton on a handcuffed detainee.
Charles Shelley, the inmate whose Aug. 5 beating was captured on security cameras installed at the Kershaw County Detention Center, was using foul language as he threatened Tribble and his family, Tribble said. Shelley made the threats during the nearly 10-minute ride to the detention center, he said.
And, Shelley refused to obey commands given to him by Tribble once they arrived at the jail, Tribble said.
"I had directed Mr. Shelley to come down off the van," Tribble said. "Once he jumped off the van he jumped in my face and said, 'What?' At which time, he jerked away and said get the (expletive omitted) up off of me."
That is when Tribble said he felt the need to use his baton.
"He was non-compliant," Tribble said.
However, Tribble became tripped up on his story during an intense cross examination by Tara McGregor, a special assistant U.S. attorney from the National Advocacy Center in Columbia. McGregor introduced three previous statements given by Tribble during last summer's investigation of the beating.
She then began pointing out how his story had changed between those three interviews and his testimony at the trial.
In the video of the beating, Tribble can be seen pulling out the retractable baton just as Shelley begins to exit the van. After questioning by McGregor, Tribble said Shelley twice tried to pull away from him before he ever got out of the police transport van.
"So, this will be the fifth version of what happened on that van?" McGregor asked. McGregor also grilled Tribble about police policy when using excessive force and police training that teaches officers to dial back their level of aggression once a suspect is under control.
"Wouldn't you agree with me if all Mr. Shelley was doing was verbally acting out you would not have had a reason to use force on Mr. Shelley?" McGregor asked.
"Yes, mam," Tribble answered.
Minutes later, McGregor asked, "You didn't back down even after he couldn't walk and you had broken his leg?"
Tribble replied, "Yes, mam."
Tribble’s trial on federal civil rights charges continues this afternoon as Campbell Streater, a former SLED agent, testifies as a defense expert on use of force.
Closing arguments are expected on Wednesday.
Surveillance video from the Kershaw County Detention Center