Two Georgia deputies fired for excessive force after highway chase


By RUSS BYNUM
Associated Press Writer

SAVANNAH, Ga.- Two sheriff's deputies were fired after being caught on videotape kneeing a man in the back and shooting him with pepper spray after he led officers on a 45-minute chase across three counties.

An internal investigation ordered by Camden County Sheriff William E. Smith concluded his deputies used excessive force against Irwin Kirk Griffen on Feb. 6. The two deputies were fired on Wednesday.

"There is no tolerance for this kind of action," sheriff's Lt. William Terrell said Friday. "We want this to be crystal clear that the sheriff will not tolerate this. It was clearly over the line."

Griffen, 22, of Cary, N.C., fled deputies after they clocked him speeding at 94 mph on Interstate 95.

Deputies said Griffen rammed a patrol car and tried to run over an officer during the chase, which ended when road spikes deflated Griffen's tires.

The video, taped from a deputy's patrol car, shows at least four officers dragging Griffen from his car at gunpoint, pulling his T-shirt over his head and forcing him on the ground.

Griffen does not appear to struggle as a Brantley County sheriff's deputy lands several punches around his head and shoulders. A Camden County deputy then knees him twice in the back. Griffen is also shot with pepper spray while on the ground.

"Good job, brother! Good job," one of the deputies says afterward, putting his arm around the shoulder of another.

The Brantley County sheriff did not immediately return a call for comment on any disciplinary action taken by his department.

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