ORANGEBURG, S.C. — A South Carolina police officer is unemployed and facing criminal charges after he stomped on the head of a physically disabled Black man last week.
David Lance Dukes, 38, of Orangeburg, is charged with first-degree assault and battery, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. He was booked Saturday into the Orangeburg County Detention Center and later released on $10,000 bond.
If convicted, Dukes faces 10 years in prison.
Body-worn cameras recorded the violent incident, which took place just after 5 p.m. on July 26 as Dukes and other officers went to the Colleton Village Townhomes to investigate a 911 call about a man with a gun.
An incident report released Wednesday and obtained by the Times and Democrat in Orangeburg alleges that a female resident had called to report a man, identified as Clarence Gailyard, 58, of Orangeburg, banging on her door and window, trying to get in. The report states that the caller said Gailyard had a gun in the waistband of his jean shorts.
The caller, identified in police reports as a relative of Gailyard, later said she’d never seen a gun.
When officers arrived, they found Gailyard in the parking lot, holding a stick wrapped in shiny silver tape. At a news conference Tuesday, Gailyard’s lawyer explained that his client walks with the stick as protection from aggressive stray dogs.
Gailyard also uses a cane, which he held in his hand Tuesday as he sat and listened to his attorney, state Rep. Justin Bamberg, speaking to reporters.
“I know there are people, unfortunately, who may look at this and think it’s not that big of a deal or it’s not that serious,” Bamberg said. “But ask yourself this: In reality, if a person were to walk up to a defenseless dog and stomp on the dog in that fashion, video of that would go viral and millions of viewers, people across the planet, would be saying the citizen that stomped on that dog deserves to go to prison.
“But it wasn’t a dog that got stomped on. It was a living, breathing human being and he’s sitting right here.”
Gailyard suffered an injury to his face, which was still visible Tuesday.
“Every time I look in the mirror, I see the scar on my forehead, and it’s not OK,” Gailyard said. “The only thing I want the community to do is change.”
Gailyard’s cousin, Demario Julian, was also ordered to the ground at gunpoint that day.
“Dukes jumped out of his car with his gun drawn, and I’m looking down the barrel of the gun,” Julian said at Tuesday’s news conference. “That’s basically what happened.”
‘Y’all bust my head’
An arrest warrant released by the SLED states that Dukes ordered Gailyard and Julian to the ground at gunpoint. Both men complied, but Bamberg said injuries from a traffic accident a couple of years ago made his client move more slowly than his cousin.
Gailyard has rods and surgical pins in his leg, knee and hip from the crash, in which he was struck by a vehicle while riding his bicycle.
“Officer Dukes ordered my client and another individual to get on the ground, but because of my client’s disability, he’s relatively slow,” Bamberg said. “He was trying to get down as fast as he could.”
It apparently wasn’t fast enough for the officer.
“Officer Dukes then approached the victim, who was in a defenseless position on his hands and knees,” the warrant states. “Officer Dukes raised his right leg and forcibly stomped with his boot on the victim’s neck and/or head area.”
Gailyard’s head struck the concrete of the parking lot. He was later taken by paramedics to an emergency room for treatment.
An incident report written by Cpl. Brandy Smith describes the interaction differently. According to Smith, Dukes “took his right foot, placing it on the subject Gailyard’s back (and) pushing him to the ground.”
The bodycam footage, which has been released by both Bamberg and Orangeburg city officials, shows the alleged assault.
Watch the footage from former Officer David Dukes’ bodycam below, courtesy of the Times and Democrat.
As Dukes cuffs Gailyard’s hands behind his back, he mentions the supposed gun.
“I ain’t got no gun,” Gailyard responds.
Smith can be seen searching the parking lot and nearby bushes, but she finds no gun. Dukes searches Gailyard’s pockets but also comes up empty.
Once Gailyard is allowed to stand up, still handcuffed, he can be heard telling the officers he was disabled in an accident.
“Y’all bust my head down,” Gailyard is heard saying. “You throw me down.”
“I sure did. You were not listening,” Dukes responds.
“You didn’t have to throw me down like that,” the handcuffed man says, repeating the fact that he’s disabled.
Bamberg praised one of Dukes’ colleagues, Sgt. Aqkwele Polidore, for working to immediately de-escalate the situation. Polidore’s bodycam video shows her calmly asking Julian questions and asking the other officers if Gailyard needs medical attention.
In her own report on the incident, Polidore notes that neither Dukes nor Smith answered the question, which she asked multiple times.
Polidore wrote that she was “in disbelief” over what she saw that afternoon.
Her camera captured Dukes explaining to a supervisor, Sgt. Aaron Maier, what he said took place.
“Mr. Gailyard had a stick in his hand, and I thought it was a gun,” Dukes says. “Mr. Gailyard put the stick down and had his hands in his pocket.”
In his on-scene explanation, and in his written report, Dukes alleges that Gailyard failed to comply with his commands to get onto the ground. He tells the sergeant that both he and Gailyard “fell to the ground, and that is what happened.”
Dukes fails to tell Maier that he’d stomped on Gailyard’s head.
Watch attorney Justin Bamberg’s news conference below, courtesy of Live 5 News in Charleston.
“What he tells the sergeant on scene is ‘they just went to the ground,’” Bamberg said, using finger quotes.
Polidore’s camera captured her telling the sergeant what Dukes had actually done.
“He is not telling the truth. Dukes kicked Mr. Gailyard in the neck,” Polidore says.
The documents released Wednesday by the city show that Maier immediately questioned Dukes’ actions. The duty captain also described Dukes’ use of force as excessive and “highly recommended” an investigation by an outside agency.
“In reviewing body-worn cameras, as well as available in-car camera video, (Officer) Dukes’ account of what occurred in the report and as told to (the sergeant) was inconsistent to the actual event as captured on video,” the report states.
The relative who initially called police declined to press charges against Gailyard, with whom she said she’d had a dispute. Gailyard was released to paramedics at the scene.
Bamberg said Polidore deserves a commendation for exhibiting the honesty and leadership that citizens expect of their law enforcement protectors.
Gailyard also praised Polidore.
“She didn’t lie. She told the truth,” Gailyard said. “All officers are not bad. Some are good.”
‘An unfortunate situation’
Dukes was fired two days after the incident. Orangeburg Department of Public Safety Chief Mike Adams said during a media briefing on Friday that Dukes’ actions were “outside the scope” of the department’s use-of-force policies.
After reviewing the bodycam videos, internal investigators referred the case to the SLED for further criminal investigation, Adams said. The state agency determined that Dukes’ actions were “likely to produce death or great bodily injury,” according to the warrant.
Watch Orangeburg officials speak about the incident below. Note: The volume may need to be turned up.
The former officer’s defense lawyer told a judge Saturday that Dukes has cooperated fully with the SLED investigation.
“This is a difficult situation and an unfortunate situation,” attorney Jack Furse said, according to the AP. “He has absolutely no violent history and he’s not a proclivity to violence.”
The AP reported, however, that Dukes was fired in October from the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office, which accused him of insubordination. Details of his firing were not immediately available.
Bamberg told reporters that Dukes’ actions are an indication of a bigger problem within the law enforcement community in Orangeburg, where 75% of residents are Black.
“What is it that is going on in the (Orangeburg) Department of Public Safety that an officer, who knows people are wearing body cameras, who knows he’s not the only one out there, is so confident and so comfortable as to pick his foot up and stomp on another man’s head and not care?” the attorney and representative said. “And not view it as wrong?
“This is not an Officer David Dukes problem. This is a City of Orangeburg problem.”
Orangeburg City Administrator Sidney Evering II spoke directly to the city’s residents at Friday’s briefing.
“We value the trust that the community has placed in us as leaders and as law enforcement officers,” Evering said. “We cannot tolerate anything that will diminish that trust.”
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