COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The trial of a former Kershaw County Sheriff's Sergeant accused of beating a handcuffed inmate began today.
Oddie Tribble, 51, is standing trial at the federal courthouse in Columbia. Tribble faces one count of a civil rights violation after a jail house security camera caught him landing 27 hits in two minutes on an inmate August 5, 2010.
Inmate Charles Shelley was left with a broken leg and cuts to both legs, which required stitches, after the beating.
Tribble told superiors he was driving a prisoner transport van to the Kershaw County Detention Center when Shelley "became irate and began making threatening comments" about Tribble's family. When the van got to the jail, Tribble said Shelley "jerked away" from him.
After that, surveillance video shows Tribble landing 27 blows on Shelley's legs with a steel police baton. "I'm in handcuffs, he tells me to get out of the van and commence to beating me with the pipe he had," Shelley said by phone after the incident. "[Corrections officers] were standing in windows watching him beat me."
Kershaw County Sheriff Stephen McCaskill fired Tribble the next day for "misconduct in office. Another deputy, Jimmy Simmons, Jr., was also fired for watching the beating take place. The State Law Enforcement Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation began investigating, which led to Tribble's charge.
Tribble's attorney said in November that the video is only part of the story. "Oddie looks forward to his day in court," said attorney Greg Harris. "We look forward to explaining to some jurors what actually happened that night and having the ability to put everything in context. We believe we'll portray a different story than what everybody in the public is seeing."
"I can't go into the facts if the case, but just trust me -- in context, there is a different story to be told," repeated Harris.
The maximum penalty Tribble could receive is up to 10 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000. The U.S. Attorney's office and the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division is prosecuting the case.
News 10's Jody Barr is at the courthouse and we'll bring any developments in the trial throughout the day.