SPRINGFIELD, GA -- The Effingham County Sheriff's Department is not specifically commenting on some controversial video from a dashcam but the man who some witnesses say was "sucker punched" is.
It’s a blow to Bernard Wallace's face during a traffic stop in Effingham County that's raising questions.
"He really dazed me a little," says Wallace while watching a tape of the incident.
Wallace had given friend Calvin Lee a ride to Lee's brother's home. They left after an argument that resulted in Springfield Police stopping Wallace's car. Apparently, there was a child support warrant for Lee's arrest.
Two officers approached the vehicle with their guns drawn.
"All kinds of thoughts were going through my head. When I saw the gun I thought we were fixing to die."
Then, as you'll see, all hell broke loose.
"If I put the car in park he put it in drive and while I was holding the brake he was hitting the gas," recalls Wallace.
Police demanded Lee to get out of the car... when he didn't they bashed in two of the windows and tased him. But according to the incident report filed by Springfield Officer Corporal Bill McDonald, Wallace was cooperative, unlocking the door and trying to stop lee's attempts to drive off.
"You get out of the car and he is telling you to put your hands behind your back and what are you saying to him?"
"I'm not putting my hands behind my back."
"And what was your reasoning?"
"I was trying to figure out what I was going to jail for."
That's when the video shows Effingham County Sheriff's Investigator Jeremy Scott running from the other side of the car and knocking the 6ft 2in, 235 pound Wallace to his knees. Scott then proceeds to hang on Wallace’s neck in some sort of choke hold.
"What did he do, which part of his arm hit you?"
"I believe his forearm."
"Where did he hit you?"
"My top lip," says Wallace pointing to the area.
Scott's incident report states Wallace took a defensive stance...
Greg Connor is a 40-year police veteran. He now runs "Use of Force" a law enforcement training and consulting company. He watched the video and noticed no such defensive posture.
"I would say that is a clear indication of excessive force. I would put it up there in regards to the detective’s actions, as one of the most gross demonstrations of excessive force by the punch in the jaw and then just an inappropriate application of a technique an inappropriate technique," points out Connor.
The Springfield Officer does indicate in his report that as he was escorting Mr. Lee to the back of his patrol vehicle, he noticed Mr. Wallace was resisting both Chief Wynn and Detective Scott.
This was, however, after Wallace was hit in the face and put in a choke hold.
News Three did try to contact Springfield Police Department for comment but they've not returned our calls.
As for the Effingham County Deputy, no use of force report was filed; something that is required by the Sheriff's Department.
They did release a statement to WSAV:
The incident involving Mr. Wallace was investigated by a Criminal Investigations Division Supervisor in February, 2010. The supervisor found that no inappropriate behavior or actions were taken and had the actions taken been different, the incident could have resulted in a more severe outcome. There was not a formal complaint filed with the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office by Mr. Wallace.
Wallace was charged with two counts of obstruction of an officer.
Both charges were dropped and he has since hired a lawyer.