Deputy Returns to Duty After Video Appears to Show Him Choking Out Suspect Unconscious

A sheriff's deputy in North Carolina who appears to have choked a suspect unconscious last week will be returning to his post, law enforcement officials announced Friday.

In the video of the July 16 incident, it looks as if the deputy uses a chokehold on the suspect, Cole Ray Carter, until he passes out.

But the Burke County Sheriff's Office said Friday that after conducting an investigation into the incident, it "did not find that the deputy used a hold that restricted Mr. Carter's ability to breathe." And after reviewing footage of the incident, the local district attorney declined to prosecute the deputy involved.

The incident took place on July 16, when sheriff's deputies attempted to arrest Carter on an outstanding warrant for "communicating threats." Carter, who had been walking on Miller Bridge Road in Connelly, North Carolina, allegedly "became argumentative and combative" and resisted arrest, the sheriff's office said in a statement.

When the deputy threatened to use pepper spray, Carter grabbed it, according to the sheriff's office. Carter pressed the spray's trigger, firing it "on the patrol car and both Mr. Carter's and the deputy's shirts," the statement says.

After this occurred, the deputy "reported he was able to move his (deputy's) right arm over Mr. Carter's shoulder with his (deputy's) right forearm under Mr. Carter's chin but not pressed against Mr. Carter's throat."

The office says deputies tried to calm down Carter, who was upset because they did not have a paper copy of the warrant for his arrest.

According to the statement, at this point, the deputy claims that Carter "took the weight off his feet and started falling to the ground."

The sheriff's office stated the deputies seen in the videos from July 16 had received training on its use of force policy this spring. The office also stated, "the deputy reported he was aware of the policy and did not use a strangle or chokehold that would violate the policy."

The deputy involved in the incident was removed from administrative leave and resumed duties on Friday.

The Burke County Sheriff's Office did not name the deputy involved in the incident and did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Newsweek.

A use of force expert interviewed by North Carolina television station WSOC said that after viewing the footage, he didn't think Carter looked "combative" during the altercation.

"When it comes to using the force, you've got to look at the level of resistance or how the person is being combative against the officer or the people they are there to protect versus the level of force the officer would be authorized to use," Lee Ratliff, the founder of a private security service and use of force consultant, told the station.

"As I look at this, I'm not seeing him be combative to the officer, toward the officers. They're having a conversation with him. He's talking to them then all of a sudden, you see him go limp," he added.

A sheriff who appears to have choked someone unconscious earlier this month is back on-duty after an investigation found he didn't restrict the suspect's ability to breathe. This is a stock photo of a sheriff. Kaybe70/Getty Images