Winthrop University was wise to ask state authorities to investigate whether a campus police officer used excessive force while arresting a Rock Hill man in May.
A Winthrop police incident report says the suspect, Kendrick V. Alston, began fighting with the officer. But Alston and two witnesses say the officer assaulted Alston.
The officer, Dewayne Bunch, has been employed as a Winthrop law enforcement officer since 2001 without any disciplinary actions at the school, according to the university. Alston, on the other hand, has been charged previously with resisting arrest.
Still, the allegations are serious. And in interviews with The Herald last week, two witnesses backed Alston.
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Everyone involved agrees that Bunch stopped Alston on May 4 in a shopping center parking lot near the intersection of Cherry Road and Richmond Drive. A police incident report says Alston was stopped on a charge of driving with a suspended license.
The incident report, Alston and the witnesses agree that the arrest became violent. They also agree that after Bunch left the parking lot with Alston in the patrol car, more violence erupted a short distance away.
But they disagree about who was the aggressor.
We're impressed that Winthrop authorities took the allegations seriously enough to ask the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate. We have no reason to doubt the veracity of an investigation conducted by Winthrop. But given recent high-profile cases of police brutality nationally, Winthrop was wise to ask that an outside agency examine the case.
The decision will increase the public's confidence in the investigation's result, regardless of who is deemed to be at fault.
Seeking state help in investigating campus police action was wise.
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