COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina state trooper who arrested NFL defensive lineman Sam Montgomery at a traffic stop last June has been fired, state officials said Friday.
The Department of Public Safety said in a news release that Lance Cpl. R.S. Salter was terminated for violating agency policies including conduct unbecoming a state employee. Salter stopped Montgomery in June when the Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman was returning to his home in Greenwood.
Montgomery was arrested and spent a night in jail after Salter clocked him going 89 mph in a 55 mph zone. But the trooper's dashboard camera obtained soon after by The Associated Press also captured the officer threatening to use a Taser because the 6-foot-3, 262-pound lineman was struggling to understand his commands.
"The next thing you're going to get is the Taser," Salter was heard to say on the tape.
"Whoa," Montgomery responded, "I'm not trying to cause problems."
Salter was suspended soon after the stop while the agency investigated. The department's Office of Professional Responsibility found Salter's behavior was unprofessional and comments to Montgomery during the arrest were inappropriate, according to a release sent by agency communications director Sherri Iacobelli.
Montgomery's ticket was dismissed by a judge in July when Salter did not show up for traffic court in Laurens.
The agency said Salter's interactions with Montgomery were "inconsistent with how he was trained to conduct a traffic stop." Its release said Salter's command, "NFL, you are under arrest," to Montgomery could be seen as suggesting that he was being arrested because of his status as a pro football player.
Salter also deviated from protocol when he immediately arrested Montgomery without telling him why he was stopped, the agency said.
The department's statement said Salter's comments to Montgomery on the ride to the detention center were inappropriate at times, including when he said, "we can pull that (seat belt) across you tight and lock it, and we make it a very uncomfortable ride to jail."
The department said that Salter's assertion to Montgomery that at 25 mph over the speed limit, "you get arrested," was a misrepresentation of facts because its investigation showed Salter arrested some violators and not others in similar circumstances.
The agency said Salter was disciplined previously for unprofessional conduct and making inappropriate comments.
"These violations demonstrate behavior that is inconsistent" with agency standards, the department said.
The Associated Press attempted to reach Salter for comment. Two phone numbers listed for him have been disconnected.
Montgomery was compliant and friendly during the stop, accepting responsibility for his actions on the ride to jail, according to the dashboard camera. "Bad deal," he said. "Trying to get home. I'll take the lick. I was wrong."
Montgomery was a standout defender at Greenwood High and LSU before getting drafted by the Houston Texans in the third round of the 2013 draft. However, he was inactive for the Texans' first seven games and waived by the club last October. Oakland signed him to the practice squad in December.
Montgomery signed with Cincinnati as a free agent in April.
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Copyright 2014 Associated Press