Police: Man who beat deputies with baton dies in custody

AP News
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Posted: Nov 14, 2016 4:38 PM

LADSON, S.C. (AP) — A man who beat two South Carolina sheriff's deputies with their own baton died after he was taken into custody with the help of bystanders, authorities said.

The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the incident, which began Sunday afternoon with a barefoot man blocking traffic as he walked on U.S. Highway 78 near Ladson, Charleston County Sheriff's Maj. Eric Watson said.

The man started fighting with Deputies Robert Bittner and Levi Reiter, grabbing one of their batons and beating them both in the head and chest, Watson said. The officers used a Taser, which he said didn't appear to work.

Up to 10 people nearby then helped restrain the man, who died a short time later at the hospital. "Deputies were struggling with the individual, so they put down their cellphones and helped," Watson said.

The coroner has ordered an autopsy to identify the man and determine how he died. Watson said no gunshots were fired. The deputies both needed stitches and were held at the hospital overnight before being released Monday.

Bittner and Reiter were both listed as white on a police report The race of the man who died has not been released. Both deputies have spent 15 years with the sheriff's office, Watson said.

Michael White drove up to the fight and watched the struggle until it looked like the man was getting the upper hand.

"The guy was actually lifting both officers off of him," White told reporters.

It took everyone's help to restraint the man, White said.

"I tried to put my knee into him to make sure he wouldn't move because, again, being extremely combative the way he was, no one was very sure if this guy was going to put harm to anyone," White said.