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‘In a Defenseless Position’: South Carolina Cop Charged After Stomping Black Man’s Head Into Concrete Thanks to 911 Caller Mistaking the Man’s Stick for a Weapon

The South Carolina officer filmed stomping a Black man’s head into concrete in late July has been fired and charged with first-degree assault and battery, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

Orangeburg Department of Public Safety Officer David Lance Dukes, 38, was fired after internal officials reviewed body camera footage of the July 26 incident, during which Dukes stomped 58-year-old Clarence Gailyard’s head while the man was on his hands and knees.

Orangeburg Department of Public Safety Officer David Lance Dukes, 38, was fired after internal officials reviewed body camera footage of the July 26 incident, during which Dukes stomped 58-year-old Clarence Gailyard’s head while the man was on his hands and knees. (Photo: OCDC; Times Democrat YouTube screenshot)

“Every time I look in the mirror, I see the scar on my forehead, and it’s not OK. The only thing I want the community to do is change,” Gailyard said Tuesday alongside his attorney Justin Bamberg.

On July 26, Gailyard was walking with his stick that he carries in case a dog approaches him. He also walks with a cane often and often moves slowly as a result of pins and rods in his leg from being hit by a vehicle on a bicycle, Bamberg said.

Someone called 911 thinking the stick Gailyard was holding was a gun. Dukes arrived and ordered Gailyard to the ground but the man wasn’t physically able to immediately comply. While he was on his hands and knees, Dukes stomped Gailyard’s head, causing it to hit the concrete.

“Officer Dukes then approached the victim, who was on his hands and knees. While the victim was in a defenseless position on his hands and knees, Officer Dukes raised his right leg and forcibly stomped with his boot on the victim’s neck and/or head area. The force of the blow caused the victim’s head to strike the concrete. The victim suffered a contusion to his forehead and was transported by EMS,” says a warrant from the state law enforcement division.

Bamberg released an eight-second video of the incident taken by a bystander, as well as body camera footage, which was played during the press conference. Dukes was fired two days after the incident, then charged days later.

The body camera footage is from another officer on the scene and shows the aftermath of the incident.

“You threw me down!” Gailyard said.

“I sure did,” Dukes replied. “You wasn’t listening.”

Officer Aqkwele Polidore, who was also on the scene, spoke up and told a sergeant who arrived later that Dukes was lying about what had happened. Body camera footage shows Dukes speaking to a sergeant about what happened, leaving out the part about him striking Gailyard with his foot. Polidore told the sergeant that she’d seen Dukes strike Gailyard as she pulled up to the scene.

“She deserves a commendation,” Bamberg said.

Dukes was fired from another police department, the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office in October due to insubordination, according to The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg.

On Saturday, a judge set Dukes’ bond at $10,000. While out on bond he is not permitted to posses firearms. If convicted, he faces 10 years in prison.

Bamberg tweeted a photo of his client showing his head wrapped with gauze over the wound. He tweeted, “This is my client, Mr. Clarence. Disabled, completely innocent bystander, unarmed, and defenseless. Got his head STOMPED on by a now fired officer in Orangeburg who repeatedly used excessive force on the people. Was also fired by his previous agency < a year ago. We can do better”

On Tuesday, Gailyard said he still in pain, a week after the incident.

“I’m still not doing too good after that. I’m still in pain. I hope the pain goes away, but I don’t think the pain is going away right now,” he said. “I don’t want them to do that to somebody else, what they did to me.”

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