A Greenville County deputy was charged with assault and his employment was terminated after an internal affairs investigation determined he punched an uncooperative but handcuffed suspect in the face, Sheriff Steve Loftis said Wednesday.
Brandon L. Napolitano, 27, was charged with third-degree assault and battery after punching a robbery suspect, according to an arrest warrant. The incident was captured on video in July inside Greenville Health System.
"Deputy Napolitano did not use proper restraint and he had to suffer the consequences," Sheriff Loftis said at a press conference.
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Napolitano had been with the Sheriff's Office for four years and was assigned to patrol.
In the early hours of July 30, Napolitano responded to a robbery at a Spinx store, 3815 White Horse Road. Deputies used K-9 units to track the suspect and found him under a pickup truck at a nearby used car dealership on White Horse Road. The suspect, later identified as Brian Christopher Mickens, refused to comply with commands, and one of the dogs bit him, Loftis said.
Napolitano requested EMS to treat a dog bite on Mickens' lower right leg. After Mickens was treated at the hospital, Napolitano told him it was time to go to jail, Loftis said.
Napolitano requested help because Mickens was uncooperative and threatened the deputy and hospital staff. Mickens was in handcuffs when the deputy and two GHS police officers tried to place him in a wheelchair, Loftis said.
At one point, Napolitano shoved Mickens in the chest and punched him twice in the face, Loftis said.
"As Mickens was being taken to the patrol car, he made threats toward Deputy Napolitano and his family, stating he would kill his family once he was released from jail or either hire someone to kill his family," Loftis said.
Mickens was charged with strong arm robbery, threatening the life of a public official, possession of drug paraphernalia and two counts of resisting arrest.
GHS police contacted the Sheriff's Office on July 31 to express their concern about what transpired the previous day. Loftis said Napolitano was placed on administrative leave immediately after the complaint.
After the internal investigation was completed, Loftis consulted the Solicitor's Office and decided to charge the deputy with assault. His employment was terminated Monday.
It was an "unfortunate incident" and "sad day," Loftis said.
"In enforcing the laws, it doesn't mean we are above the law," Loftis said. "It means that we are held to higher standards as deputies."