A state trooper was fired after a video camera in his patrol car captured him shoving, cursing and threatening to cut the clothes off a woman he had stopped for speeding.
The tape of Lance Cpl. W.H. Beckwith’s speeding stop was released Thursday and broadcast on South Carolina television stations.
Beckwith, an 11-year patrol veteran, was fired after an investigation into the Jan. 8 arrest.
“We knew it would come to the light of day,” said Public Safety Director Boykin Rose. “It’s imperative that the citizens of this state know this is an isolated incident. This is a blot on all of us.”
Telephone calls to a listing for W.H. Beckwith in Florence were not immediately returned. The Florida woman, who was traveling to North Carolina, was not identified. Her lawyers did not return calls.
Beckwith was driving an unmarked patrol car along Interstate 95 in Clarendon County when he saw the woman doing 80 mph in a 65 mph zone. He was not wearing his trooper’s hat as required, Rose said.
His car’s siren can be heard on the videotape and Beckwith had his blue lights on, Rose said, but the woman did not stop for seven minutes. “I had no idea who you were,” she said later on tape.
Once the woman stopped, Beckwith approached the car with his gun drawn and tried to drag her out while her seat belt was still on.
He pulled her out of the car, pushed her face down on the pavement and tried to handcuff her, but her clothing got in the way. “If I can’t get it off, I’ll cut it off,” he said.
When the woman said she could not roll over to stand up because she was next to the car, he shouted: “Roll over and stand … up, lady, now! You’re fixin’ to taste liquid hell in a minute!”
The woman, who suffered bruises and scratches, pleaded guilty to speeding and was released the same day, Rose said.
After the woman complained that day, Beckwith’s superiors got the tape from his car. He was suspended Feb. 1 and fired Feb. 22.
The tape has been forward to the State Law Enforcement Division, the state attorney general and the FBI for possible criminal charges.
About 350 patrol cars have video cameras that turn on with the lights and sirens.