On January 3, 2016, through a social media outlet, the Greenville Police Department learned of allegations of excessive force by Officer R. Gibson pursuant to a traffic stop on December 15, 2015. In particular, it is alleged that Gibson arrested and handcuffed Mr. Jaquan Williams and then, without provocation, slammed Williams to the ground, resulting in his teeth being knocked out. The social media posting shares pictures of Williams’ mouth with a missing and chipped tooth, and small abrasions under his nose and on his chin. Although the allegations of excessive force did not originate with the arrested party, the Department investigates all complaints of misconduct, regardless of the source.
Earlier today, the Department released to the media a detailed incident report describing what transpired, from the involved officers’ perspectives. It also released photographs, taken at the time of booking/release to Greenville Detention Center personnel, which depict Williams with the (missing) tooth intact, an adjoining chipped tooth and the two abrasions. Dash camera video is available and will be released as soon as it is determined the release will not disrupt the active investigation.
What is known at this time is that Gibson initiated a traffic stop for an expired vehicle registration and, upon contact with the two occupants of the vehicle, smelled the odor of burning marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. Upon the arrival of Officer Munoz, Gibson initiated a probable cause search of the vehicle, locating suspected marijuana in the passenger door pocket.
Intending to write both occupants a citation for possession of the marijuana, Gibson directed both occupants to return to their vehicle while the citation was written. The passenger, Mr. Williams, refused and stated that Gibson should arrest him. He was arrested, handcuffed and eventually was taken to the ground as a result of what officers described as continued resistance to a lawful arrest. Mr. Williams’ stated he chipped a tooth as a result and his injuries were evaluated on-scene by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel, before being released for booking.
As is standard protocol in allegations of excessive force, the Department initiates two separate investigations: An internal investigation to ensure that involved officers followed Department policies and protocols, and an independent criminal investigation to determine whether officer actions violated the law. The SC State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) will conduct the separate criminal investigation. The criminal investigation will be reviewed by the 13th Circuit Solicitor’s Office for any determination on prosecution.
Anyone with information in this matter is encouraged to contact Greenville Police Internal Affairs at 864-467-5510.