Controversial Use Of Pepper Spray In Greenville Bar Fight

A fight at a local bar early Sunday morning is raising questions from some patrons about how police broke things up.

WITN spoke with Greenville Police about the surveillance footage taken from outside 5th Street Distillery.

Deputy Chief Ted Sauls said, "The officers are trying to figure out what's going on. When they realize there is more of a disturbance than first appeared, they go back into the club. This time you see 3, maybe 4 subjects exit the club along with some staff. A a couple of those were staff members that immediately went back into the club, as did the officers to remove this group of people."

Sauls said it is believed that the officer applied pepper spray at the second trip to the door. In particular, where the subjects were fighting to get them to stop.

Sydney West said she was just feet from at least one portion of the fight and that she and dozens of others immediately felt the spray.

West said, "The next thing I saw was a police officer in the door way and then just this huge mist of brown. I couldn't see after that. The smell and the feeling of it all came in the bathroom with us, so I ended up going and jumping off the back deck and there's people throwing up and coughing. It was really bad."

Deputy Chief Sauls said that it's unfortunate others had to be impacted, but says the officer made a judgement call on the severity of the fight.

Sauls said the officer, "recognized the situation was evolving so rapidly that he took an action to use intermediate force of pepper spray, sprayed at a doward angle, that caused the groups to focus on that long enough to extract them."

West said, "I know the person being attacked was getting it pretty bad, but I feel more of a physical force should have been placed before that. It really affected bystanders who had nothing to do with it."

Greenville Police said that charges are pending in the case against the person who instigated the fight.

Chief Deputy Sauls said they are continuing to investigate, but that there's no indication the officer acted out of bounds of policy.