Video of Hardeeville councilman confrontation with police released

rlurye@islandpacket.comDecember 11, 2013 

Hardeeville City Councilman Sal Arzillo speaks with residents before the Nov. 21 council meeting.

STAFF PHOTO

A video of a confrontation between a Hardeeville councilman and a city police officer that made the elected official the subject of a state investigation was released Wednesday.

The Hardeeville Police Department filed a report Nov. 14 with the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division, accusing Councilman Sal Arzillo of interfering with the inspection of a gas station earlier that week.

Hardeeville police uniforms are equipped with cameras that constantly record video and, when activated by officers, record audio, as well. SLED released the footage to The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette, with the 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office's permission.

SLED has declined to provide additional details, citing the ongoing investigation.

Police Chief Richard Nagy said he filed the report with SLED after viewing the video and speaking with his officers. Nagy, Mayor Bronco Bostick and city manager Bob Nanni would not comment further.

Arzillo said he went to the Citgo on Whyte Hardee Boulevard on Nov. 10 after several people, including the store's owner, called him, describing a situation with police. Four officers were at the convenience store that Sunday checking on its compliance with liquor laws, according to a police report.

After the inspection, police confiscated a video poker machine and charged the store's clerk, a 26-year-old Hardeeville man, and a customer, a 35-year-old Hardeeville woman, with illegal possession of alcohol. The woman also was charged with providing false information to law enforcement.

It's not immediately clear whether charges were filed or if there is an ongoing investigation regarding the video poker machine.

Reached Wednesday, Arzillo said he tried to go inside the store because a crowd was beginning to gather.

"There were 15 people outside, wanting to know what was going on," he said. "Why would I go over there? Why wouldn't I?"

When an officer standing in the doorway placed his arm across Arzillo's chest to block him from entering, the councilman said he became angry.

"If he was standing outside the door, we wouldn't have had this problem," Arzillo said. "I was aggravated. I was beside myself. ... When he put his hand on me, he was wrong."

In the video, Arzillo can be seen asking the officer to move his arm and stating, "What kind of investigation are you doing here?"

At one point, the officer says, "We're trying to be nice about it, but you're being very rude at the moment."

Arzillo responds, "No, you're being rude."

After about a minute and a half, the officer lowers his arm and says, "Now you're excused."

Arzillo can be heard saying, "No, you're excused." He stares at the officer for about six seconds and continues, "You're in the wrong area, son, the wrong area."

When police inform him he is being recorded, Arzillo tells him he doesn't care, and walks away.

The councilman denies interfering in the investigation.

"This is America, home of the brave, land of the free," he said. "I'm never going to be treated like that. You throw your arm up at me, we've got a problem."


Video: Hardeeville Councilman Arzillo confronts police (2:10)

City of Hardeeville (S.C.) Councilman Sal Arzillo is shown in this video while officers with the Hardeeville Police Department investigate a convenience store on Nov. 10, 2013. Video provided by South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

Related content:

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service