N.C. deputy punished for using 'unintentional' force in arrest

By Kristen Kridel
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

CHARLOTTE COUNTY- The Sheriff's Office said that a deputy used "unintentional" excessive force when he put a man accused of domestic violence and resisting without violence in a chokehold.

As a punishment, Deputy First Class Christopher Kearney will receive counseling and complete retraining in the proper use of force and compliance techniques, according to a Charlotte County Sheriff's Office internal affairs report released Friday.

"He had no intent to violate policy and simply reverted to previous training under stress," Maj. Mark Caro wrote in an inter-office memorandum.

Kearney, 27, learned the maneuver while on active duty in the Marine Corps, according to the report.

Caro said Kearney's situation is rare. He can't remember another case in which a deputy resorted to using military techniques on the job.

"We don't have a lot of that because we're very thorough with our training," he said. "There is a possibility that people revert back to former training. It's human nature."

According to the internal affairs investigative report:

Kearney responded to a Port Charlotte home Aug. 27, when the Sheriff's Office received a call about domestic violence there.

After being handcuffed, Robert Beymer stopped and asked if he could put on shoes before leaving the house. Instead of letting him get shoes, Kearney put an arm around Beymer's neck and dragged him outside.

During the arrest, Beymer said, he spit up blood and repeatedly said he was choking. All the while, Beymer's wife and parents were yelling at Kearney to stop choking the man.

EMS was called when Beymer got to the patrol car and complained of head, neck and throat injuries. The examining technician saw redness on both sides of Beymer's neck and a couple of scratches.

Kearney told his superiors that, when he was trying to lead Beymer out of the house, the man stopped moving and refused to go.

The family members were getting loud, and the deputy said he wanted to move Beymer outside.

That is when he said he applied the neck hold.

If done correctly, the hold is not supposed to obstruct the blood flow or airway, Kearney said.

Kearney later demonstrated the move on the sergeant investigating the case for the department.

Sgt. Catherine Swencki said she felt pressure on her neck and had a difficult time breathing while in the hold.

Copyright 2006 Sarasota Herald-Tribune Co.
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