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Sheriff: Hold didn’t restrict breathing, deputy back on duty

July 23, 2021 GMT

MORGANTON, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina sheriff’s office announced that a deputy seen in a TikTok video restraining a man who appears to collapse is being returned to regular duty Friday after an internal investigation found the hold he used didn’t restrict the man’s ability to breathe.

After reviewing the video and investigative findings, the Burke County district attorney’s office declined to prosecute, the county’s sheriff’s office said. The deputy was last trained on the use of force policy in the spring and reported he was aware of the policy and didn’t use a strangle or choke hold that would violate the policy.

In the video posted last week online, a deputy is seen holding a man with the crook of his elbow around the man’s neck, The News Herald reported. About 40 seconds into the recording, the man is seen going limp as the deputy lowers him to the ground.

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On July 16, the deputy responded to a sighting of a man wanted on a charge of communicating threats in Connelly Springs, the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post. The deputy stopped the man and began to arrest him, but the man became combative, grabbing the deputy’s pepper spray and the sheriff’s office said as they struggled over it, he sprayed the deputy. The deputy put his forearm under the man’s chin without pressing on the man’s throat, the sheriff’s office said.

As the deputy tried to calm the man and answer his questions, the deputy reported that the man took his weight off his feet and started falling. The deputy lowered the man to the curb and when he reached for the man’s arm to handcuff him, the man began resisting, saying the pavement was hot while starting to crawl away.

After the man was handcuffed, he was decontaminated. The man didn’t want to go to the hospital and was taken to jail, the sheriff’s office said.

The sheriff’s office said it will review and, if needed, revise its use of force policy.

Deputies do not wear body cameras. The county’s Board of Commissioners has declined the sheriff’s requests for funds to purchase cameras for deputies.