NC police, independent council say force used in man’s arrest in viral video ‘lawful’ and ‘required’

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The press conference in the above video begins at the 3:28 mark.

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KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) — Kinston police and an independent council said in a news conference Friday the force used on a suspect during an arrest, which was captured in a viral video on April 12, was “lawful” and “required.”

Kinston Police Chief Tim Dilday and John Eric Combs — an independent investigator from Fayetteville called to look into the situation — both said the moves that led to the arrest of David Lee Bruton, 36, of Kinston, by officers McKinley Jones and Kevin Page were necessary. A video of the incident was posted on social media and showed at least one of the two officers striking Bruton several times during his arrest.

“As with all officer-involved uses of force, this matter has been thoroughly investigated,” Dilday said. “The internal investigation into this use of force incident has revealed the attempt to detain Mr. Bruton was lawful activity and was required by the officers in the situation.”

Combs said the method of force, particularly the punches the officers threw at Bruton are techniques that are taught in training officers all over North Carolina.

“I’ve reviewed the materials sent to me, created a report with an opinion section,” Combs said. “… The amount and method of force used by the officers on April 12, 2021 were reasonable under the circumstances and were not excessive or otherwise in violation of standard police practice and law enforcement procedures and training standards.”

The investigation stems from the arrest of Bruton on April 12.

A social media video showed at least one officer hitting Bruton several times when he was apprehended after they responded to a call for service at 111 W. Vernon Ave.

The two officers in the video, McKinley Jones and Kevin Page, were put on administrative leave.

Combs also said punches like the ones seen in the video “are used as a stun. A stun is used to create a window of opportunity for an officer to gain control of an arrestee.”

Dilday said the investigation took two weeks. Combs said he spent between 12-15 hours working on the case, viewing video and conducting interviews. The investigation was concluded Wednesday and was presented to the Kinston City Council before the findings were released in Friday’s press conference.

Dilday also said the process would begin Monday for Jones and Page to resume full duty with the Kinston Police Department.

“They’ve been under an extremely stressful event themselves over the past three weeks,” Dilday said. “We will begin a process to bring them back, get them reacclimated and return to full duty.”

Shortly after news of the arrest and viral video came out, Kinston police issued a statement that read, “The Kinston Police Department is aware of a partial video from earlier this evening involving officers while responding to a call for service located at 111 W. Vernon Avenue. We are currently investigating the incident that occurred in the video. The Kinston Police Department is conducting a thorough review of all evidence related to this incident.”

A press conference was held on April 13 to discuss the incident for the first time since the viral video and news of Burton’s arrest.

The incident stems from an intimidation and simple assault incident police responded to on April 12 around 6:30 p.m. at Little Caesars, according to a Kinston Police report that WNCT’s Amber Joseph obtained. Officers responded to a panic alert and, upon arrival, made contact with the caller, who said Burton threatened to slap her.

The report states officers checked the area and located Burton, who started running. He then stopped and “took an aggressive fighting stance with officers, then ran again,” the report states. Burton later tripped and fell down, at which point “Burton kicked Officer Page in the stomach,” according to the report.

Officials said Burton was taken into custody to the Kinston Police Department. He was then taken to the Lenoir County Magistrate and placed under a $500 secured bond. He was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting an officer among other charges.

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