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Black Man Stomped by South Carolina Officer Will Receive $650,000 Settlement

When the man did not lie on the ground quickly, because he has metal rods and pins in his leg and hip, a police officer stomped on the back of his head.

At a news conference in August, Clarence Gailyard, center, watched police body camera video of an officer stomping on him. At left is his lawyer, Justin Bamberg.
Credit...Jeffrey Collins/Associated Press

After being stopped by the police in South Carolina in July, a Black man was ordered to lie on the ground. When he did not do so quickly, because he has metal rods and pins in his leg and hip, an officer stomped on the back of his head.

The man, Clarence Gailyard, 58, will now receive $650,000 in compensation from Orangeburg, S.C., the city announced on Wednesday.

Body camera footage from July 26 shows Mr. Gailyard being stopped by Officer David Lance Dukes. The officer points a gun at Mr. Gailyard, who is on his hands and knees.

In the video, Mr. Dukes, who was later fired, yells, “Get on the ground!” He then stomps on Mr. Gailyard, causing his forehead to hit the ground.

Mr. Gailyard sustained a head injury. He was stopped by the police that day after “an erroneous 911 call placed stating someone out there had a gun,” his lawyer, Justin Bamberg, said.

Mr. Gailyard, who has had rods and pins in his body since being struck by a vehicle while riding a bicycle a few years ago, was holding a piece of wood wrapped in duct tape that he used to keep stray dogs away when he went walking, Mr. Bamberg said.

In a statement on Wednesday, the city said that in addition to an apology, Mr. Gailyard would receive the compensation paid by the city’s insurance carrier. City officials said that the city would also establish a citizens’ task force to “provide oversight and guidance with regard to interactions” between residents and the Orangeburg police.

Sidney Evering, the Orangeburg city administrator, said in a statement that the “vast majority” of the city’s police officers “do their jobs with honor and ensure that the citizens they are entrusted to protect and serve are treated fairly and with respect.”

He added: “However, when an officer falls short of these expectations and conducts themselves in ways unbecoming to their department and the city, that officer must and will be held accountable. That’s exactly what we have done in this instance.”

Mr. Dukes was fired after an investigation into the encounter and was charged with first-degree assault and battery. His lawyer and the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday night.

At a news conference in August, Mr. Gailyard said he was still in pain. “Every time I look in the mirror and see the scar on my face, it is not OK,” he said.

In a statement to the city on Wednesday, Mr. Bamberg said that Mr. Gailyard was “pleased to put this very troubling incident behind him.”

“We appreciate how quickly Orangeburg city leadership moved to make this right by Mr. Gailyard,” Mr. Bamberg said. “I’ve handled numerous cases involving police violence previously, and rarely have I seen a city swiftly accept responsibility and also work to ensure that this never happens to another person.”

Mr. Bamberg said he gave credit to Aqkwele Polidore, a sergeant who was at the scene in July, “who refused to cover for a co-worker.”

“This incident should give all good officers around the country a positive sign that it is OK to take a stand against police brutality in your agencies,” Mr. Bamberg said. “Amazing things can happen when dedicated law enforcement officers choose what’s right over what’s ‘blue.’”

Mr. Bamberg also credited the city of Orangeburg for “changing its police department for the betterment of both its own officers and the citizens it serves.”

“This is what progress looks like,” he said.


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