Crime & Public Safety

Beaufort County man dies after Taser used on him 3 times by deputies, report says

Deputy’s report tells what led up to Beaufort County man’s tasing. He died days later

Beaufort County Sheriff's deputies responded to a call at a Seabrook residence at 6:22 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 17. They found 24-year-old Trey Pringle sitting in front of a broken television "bleeding everywhere," according to the report. His mothe
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Beaufort County Sheriff's deputies responded to a call at a Seabrook residence at 6:22 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 17. They found 24-year-old Trey Pringle sitting in front of a broken television "bleeding everywhere," according to the report. His mothe

A 24-year-old Seabrook man who died Tuesday after being restrained by deputies over the weekend had a Taser used on him three times before he collapsed, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office report.

The Beaufort County Coroner’s Office and Sheriff’s Office confirmed the identity of the deceased on Thursday as Trey Pringle. He was a 2012 graduate of Whale Branch Early College High School, according to Beaufort County School District spokesman Jim Foster.

On Feb. 17, a relative of Pringle called 911 to report that Pringle was allegedly “out of control, injured, bleeding and in need of medical assistance” after breaking items inside a home on Detour Road, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Office.

Trey Pringle Submitted

The Burton Fire District, Beaufort County Emergency Medical Services and Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene.

When deputies arrived and attempted to restrain Pringle, he punched one of the deputies in the head and injured another deputy’s ankle, the report stated.

Pringle lost consciousness after a Taser was used on him and he was physically restrained by the two deputies and the other first responders at the scene, according to the release. He was then transported to Beaufort Memorial Hospital, where he died at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to the coroner’s office.

“The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office’s thoughts and prayers are with Trey Pringle’s family,” said a statement released on Thursday from the Sheriff’s Office.

An autopsy was completed Feb. 21, and the results are pending, according to the coroner’s office.

The incident is under investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

The two deputies involved in the altercation were treated and released from Beaufort Memorial Hospital on Saturday evening. As of Wednesday, both deputies had returned to work, according to the Sheriff’s Office. They continued to be on the job Thursday, according to Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner.

An obituary for Pringle says a funeral is planned for noon Feb. 28 at Pine Grove Baptist Church in Beaufort followed by burial in Seabrook Cemetery.

The full statement released from the Sheriff’s Office reads as follows.

“We can confirm that 24-year-old Trey Pringle, who died on February 20th, was in fact the subject involved in the disturbance at a residence on Detour Road in Seabrook early Saturday evening. Trey Pringle’s death remains under investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), who were requested by Sheriff P.J. Tanner following the incident on Saturday evening. Further inquiries regarding the incident and Trey Pringle’s death should be referred to SLED, as we believe it would be inappropriate to release information on another agency’s investigation. The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office’s thoughts and prayers are with Trey Pringle’s family.”

Report offers new details

Deputies initially met the family at the Detour Road home shortly before 6:30 p.m. Saturday, according to the Sheriff’s Office report.

Before deputies came into the house, a family member told them Pringle might try to run away if he saw law enforcement.

Once inside, deputies found him “sitting in the living room by the broken television and bleeding everywhere,” according to the report.

Deputies tried to speak with him, but he wouldn’t answer any questions.

First responders from Burton Fire District and Beaufort County EMS arrived and also tried to speak with Pringle, with no success. He would not allow them to look at his injuries, the report said.

An EMS employee pulled a deputy aside and told him that “due to the (redacted) medical and mental history, as well as the way he was acting and the amount of blood observed at the scene, (redacted) needed to get transported (to the hospital),” according to the report.

A deputy told Pringle officers needed to put him in handcuffs in order to get him help. A pair of deputies “grabbed him” to get him on his feet. Pringle “started freaking out and broke free from my hands, struck me in the face multiple times, breaking my glasses, kicked me in the knee and struck (redacted),” a deputy wrote in the report.

Pringle broke free, ran to a back room of the home and shut himself inside.

One deputy drew his handgun, and a second pulled out a Taser, according to the report.

Pringle came out of the room a few minutes later “in an aggressive manner” and the first deputy told the second to use the Taser. The second deputy did not hear that command “due to the screaming” so the first deputy used his own Taser.

Pringle retreated into the room again before coming back out and sitting by the television, the report said.

Pringle was again calmed by someone who held his hands and spoke with him but began fighting when a deputy again tried to handcuff him, according to the report. He allegedly “picked up a (broken) piece of glass and attempted to swing (it) to use it as a weapon.”

The first deputy then used a Taser on Pringle a second time.

Deputies tried to handcuff Pringle again. He was still “actively fighting us by kicking and trying to break free,” according to the report.

“Since we still did not have positive control of (redacted), I drive stunned him with my Taser on the back of the leg until we were able to secure his hands in handcuffs,” the deputy wrote in the report. The term “drive stun” refers to holding the Taser directly again the victim’s body and deploying it.

A firefighter helped to subdue Pringle, who was still struggling after being handcuffed, according to the report.

Pringle was “kept on the ground” until other deputies arrived.

As medical personnel were starting to treat Pringle’s injuries, “they discovered he was in cardiac arrest. (Redacted) was immediately given CPR, placed in an ambulance and transported to Beaufort Memorial Hospital.”

Ongoing investigation

Pringle died at the hospital Tuesday morning.

When asked why the public was not immediately informed of his death, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry said, “That information does not come from us.”

He said local authorities and the deceased person’s family would be responsible for releasing that information and that SLED does not inform the public, especially during an active investigation.

During such investigations, SLED generally does not release detailed information, Berry said.

Berry would not comment on how many times or for how many seconds Pringle had a Taser used on him or how many deputies were being questioned in connection with Saturday night’s incident, saying releasing such details would be inappropriate at this time.

As of Thursday afternoon, no deputies had been placed on administrative leave, and all involved in the incident were working their regular work shifts, Tanner said.

The Sheriff’s Office report had what appeared to be 13 deputies’ names redacted from the “Responding Officers” section.

The sheriff said the number of deputies listed in that section of a report could include officers who were called to the scene and did not participate or deputies who were initially called to the scene and then called off before they arrived.

Tanner said he could not comment on the number of deputies involved in the Detour Road incident, the number of deputies who responded or the names of those deputies, citing the ongoing SLED investigation.

Tanner also declined comment on the policy governing Taser use by deputies, saying it could interfere with the SLED investigation.

“When I ask an agency to come in and investigate ... I’m going to do my best to stay in my lane and respect what they’re doing,” Tanner said.

He did say the Sheriff’s Office is conducting its own internal investigation to determine if its policies and procedures were followed.

Joan McDonough: 843-706-8125, @IPBG_Joan

Maggie Angst: 843-706-8137, @maggieangst

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