Trending Topics

‘This Isn’t Going to be No George Floyd’: North Carolina to Consider Criminal Charges Against Deputy Caught on Video with Knee on Man’s Neck

The State Bureau of Investigation has launched an investigation into a North Carolina deputy caught on video with his knee on a Black’s man neck before dragging him into a building.

The state agency will decide if criminal charges will be brought against Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron Edwards.

Cellphone video footage shows Washington County Deputy Aaron Edwards jump kicking a handcuffed man with his knee. (Screenshot/WITN)

Washington County officials confirmed that Edwards was fired on March 11, a little over a week after video footage shows him landing a kick with his knee into Gary Thomas’ neck. Thomas was arrested for marijuana possession.

His girlfriend, Caressil Goddard, said she started filming the incident to hold the authorities accountable. The video starts with Thomas on the ground. It is unclear how he got there.

“Now everybody can see how it goes down here,” Goddard told reporters. “They drug him all the way back to the door and still dragged him, and his head hit the building. Then, he was knocked out for a minute, and I was like y’all need to call the ambulance.”

The video, made public by WITN, shows Edwards quickly backing away then circling Thomas on the ground in front of the Washington County Clerk of Court building before dragging him back in. Thomas was handcuffed and did not move.

Thomas’ mother, Francis Gilliam, was also on the scene and could be heard on the video screaming “Oh my God” at least eight times. At the moment when Edwards drops his knee on her son’s neck, she screams “Not my baby’s neck” in between loud sobs.

Gilliam said Thomas called and told her that he was about to be charged, so she went to the courthouse.

“I said this isn’t going to be no George Floyd. I kept saying that,” Gilliam told reporters. “I repeated it.”

Thomas’ aunt, who was also a witness, was reportedly arrested for trying to intervene as cops dragged a motionless Thomas through the doors of the building. Thomas’ family said he complained about headaches after the incident.

“But I didn’t never go nowhere because I didn’t want to see my son hurt or in danger,” Gilliam said, “and as a mother, you feel for your child. I don’t care if he is grown, they are your kids.”

Washington County Sheriff Johnny Barnes said Edwards was fired as a result of an internal investigation that included body-worn camera video footage of the arrest.

“This incident went beyond the scope of acceptable force and will not be tolerated in this office,” Barnes said in a social media statement. “Our officers work hard daily to earn the trust of our citizens, and we will continue to strive to serve our citizens with professionalism nothing less will be acceptable.”

The May 2020 Minneapolis Police killing of Floyd led to global protest against excessive police force and racial inequality in policing. Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvrin was caught on video with his knee in Floyd’s neck for nine minutes. Floyd was also handcuffed and motionless.

At least 17 states, including Minnesota, have banned chokeholds during arrests since Floyd’s murder. The North Carolina Legislature has considered a measure to change the policy, but lawmakers did not pass the bill. In June 2020, former North Carolina Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks advised local agencies to review their use-of-force policies, and some local agencies implemented chokehold bans. However, it is unclear what the use-of-force policy is in Washington County.

The Washington Post reports that as of Sept. 6 at least 32 of the nation’s 65 largest police departments have banned or strengthened restrictions on the use of neck restraints in response to Floyd’s death.

“That just messed me up to be honest with you,” Gilliam said regarding her son’s violent treatment. “I couldn’t even get no sleep because you still see it.”

What people are saying

Leave a Reply

Back to top