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A North Carolina sheriff’s deputy was caught on TikTok using a chokehold during a traffic stop. The deputy has since been placed on paid administrative leave.
The video, which was shared on Saturday, shows the deputy applying the chokehold to a man as another deputy stands in front of them. While the man appears to be communicating with the officers at first, things seem to take a turn 20 seconds into the video as he clutches at the officer’s arm around his neck. After another 15 seconds, the man’s arm, and the rest of his body, goes limp. The officer then moves the man to the ground before the video ends.
In a second video posted by the same user, the man, who regained consciousness, is being searched by a second police vehicle parked a few feet away from where he was choked out. Before the video ends, a vehicle pulls up and parks in front of the user’s view of the arrest in progress.
The user, who posted the video with the hashtags “#CopsOfTikTok” and “#BlueLivesMatter,” said that the man was resisting before he began recording the first video, though he doesn’t detail how, exactly, he was resisting.
The filmmaker, who appeared in the post to support the police, did not immediately respond to messages about the video from VICE News.
The sheriff’s office told local news outlets that they are aware of the video, which already has over 71,000 views on TikTok, and have already taken action.
"The Burke County Sheriff’s Office is investigating two TikTok videos involving a deputy with a suspect who was arrested on an outstanding warrant,” the sheriff’s office told Charlotte NBC affiliate WCNC. “The deputy has been placed on administrative leave with pay until the investigation is completed which can hopefully be concluded in a matter of days."
Chokeholds are specifically considered a use of deadly force, according to the Burke County Sheriff’s Office’s use of force policy, which was last updated in January. The policy specifically says officers are only allowed to use deadly force when it seems reasonably necessary for an officer to defend themselves or others from someone who is an imminent threat. The policy also says officers can use deadly force when someone armed with a deadly weapon is trying to evade arrest or escape custody.
“Although North Carolina General Statutes authorize the use of deadly force against an unarmed and otherwise non-dangerous person who is escaping custody imposed for conviction of a felony, deputies of the Burke County Sheriff’s Office are expressly prohibited from using deadly force in this situation,” the policy notes. “Deputies may only use deadly force against an escaping convicted felon if deadly force is authorized by other provisions in this policy.”
The Burke County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment further on the arrest, but did say that an update on the investigation would be coming sometime in the next 48 hours.
The man, who the sheriff’s office has not identified, was also pinned with two charges of resisting arrest, according to arrest warrants obtained by the Morganton News Herald. The outlet reports that the man allegedly refused to comply with demands to stop resisting, tried to pull away from officers, and attempted to wrestle away one of the officer’s pepper spray. In the fray, one of the officers was allegedly hit with the spray.