A federal jury will decide today whether a former Kershaw County Sheriff’s deputy violated the civil rights of a handcuffed detainee he struck 27 times with his metal police baton.
On Tuesday afternoon, attorneys for the prosecution and defense gave their closing arguments in U.S. District Court in Columbia as they tried to sway the jury to rule in their favor.
The federal prosecutors said Oddie Tribble, 51, used excessive force on Aug. 5 when he hit Charles Shelley with a baton until his leg broke. Although Shelley was cursing and threatening the officer, words were not enough of a reason for a police officer to use such violent force, said Tara McGregor, a special assistant U.S. attorney from the National Advocacy Center in Columbia.
“Oddie Tribble broke Charles Shelley’s skin,” McGregor said. “Oddie Tribble broke Charles Shelley’s leg. And Oddie Tribble broke the law.”
However, Tribble’s defense attorney argued that the law allows a police officer to use force to maintain control and discipline of detainees. Shelley’s threats and refusal to cooperate with orders led Tribble to use his baton to make the detainee walk from a police transport van to the Kershaw County Detention Center’s entrance, said Johnny Gasser, one of the three defense attorneys.