Officer fired after body camera footage backs up complaints

AP News
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Posted: Sep 11, 2015 3:40 PM

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina lawman has been fired after body camera footage backed up fellow officers' complaints about excessive force.

In a news release issued Thursday, Simpsonville Police Chief Keith Grounsell said Officer Brian Kurta was fired from the department late last month. According to the chief, an internal investigation was conducted after several officers filed excessive force complaints against Kurta, 42.

Body camera footage backed up those complaints, and Kurta was fired immediately, according to Grounsell. The chief did not give details about what the footage showed.

The chief said he asked the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate the situation, which he characterized as an isolated incident. Agency spokesman Thom Berry confirmed to The Associated Press Friday that an investigation was under way but released no details.

Police said no alleged victim had filed a formal complaint against Kurta, who has not been charged with a crime.

In the news release, Grounsell said he would not release further details. In an email Friday to AP, the chief reiterated that he would say nothing further on the incident but did confirm Kurta started at the department in February 2011 and was terminated August 24.

The use of police body cameras has been spreading around the U.S. to provide a video account of police encounters with the public. The cameras have revealed some police misbehavior, but also raised new questions about how to store the videos, how much to make public and when officers should turn the cameras on and off.

A law signed by Gov. Nikki Haley in June specifies which officers will wear body cameras, when they should and should not be recording and how videos are stored. The policies must be approved by a statewide group of law enforcement professionals. Police departments are waiting for the state to approve money for the cameras.

Kurta was still listed on the agency's website Friday afternoon as a patrol officer, and a working phone number for him could not be found.

Simpsonville is about 90 miles northwest of Columbia.

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Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP