Police Brutality at ECU

There's an investigation tonight into what some are calling police brutality at the ECU-West Virginia game last night. The nationally televised game not only captured excited fans storming the field, but law enforcement grabbing, body-slamming and punching fans as they ran by.

ECU's Chief of Police released the following statement, through ECU's Public Information Officer, John Durham.

East Carolina University officials are investigating complaints of unnecessary force exercised by law enforcement officers as thousands of people stormed the field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Saturday to celebrate the Pirates' win over West Virginia University.

ECU Police Chief Scott Shelton said university officers are interviewing witnesses and analyzing photos and videotapes. The complaints are varied and include assertions that officers punched a fan and threw another to the ground. Shelton said, "Preliminary investigation indicates excessive force was used in an incident of most concern by complainants."

ECU police are assisted at home football games by officers from a number of jurisdictions, including the City of Greenville, Pitt County Sheriff's Department, the City of Kinston, and Lenoir County. Shelton said he will meet Monday with Greenville Police Chief Bill Anderson to seek his assistance in the investigation.

Shelton said that at a briefing before the game, all officers were told that if ECU won the game and fans attempted to come onto the field, officers should try to deter them by making themselves visible.

But if that failed, he said, officers were instructed to step back and focus on making sure that those on the field stayed safe.

"Obviously, the safety of the students, fans and athletes at the game is our first concern," Shelton said. "It is simply unacceptable that anyone at a game is the victim of excessive force."

Shelton said he hopes to have at least a preliminary report on the complaints within a day or two.

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