A Pearl River County man will face multiple charges after he has been treated for second-degree burns he allegedly received after he refused to comply with requests from a sheriff’s deputy.
On Friday afternoon, Sept. 4, authorities were called about a truck “power braking” on freshly laid asphalt on Highway 11 north of the city of Picayune.
At the time of the call, other deputies were all on calls, so a narcotics agent volunteered to take the call.
According to Pearl River County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Shane Tucker, he responded, and was accompanied by state agents from his previous call.
"They met with the road crew that pointed out the vehicle that was still in the closed lane, and made contact with the driver, who appeared to be under the influence," said Tucker.
"They asked him to exit the vehicle, and he complied. It was later determined that he was under the influence of alcohol and he was subsequently arrested for DUI, without incident,” Tucker said.
It was after the driver was taken into custody that the incident occurred with the passenger, Brent Culpepper.
“During this investigation, it was an investigation of a criminal complaint, the officer made contact with the passenger that was still seated in the vehicle," Tucker said. "That passenger refused to provide an ID and refused to answer questions or cooperate with the investigation from the officer. After much conversation trying to get compliance through communication with him, he still refused," said Tucker.
Tucker said the officer eventually opened the passenger door and told him that he was under arrest for disorderly conduct to step out.
After Culpepper refused to exit the vehicle, the officer was forced to react.
“That individual refused to step out, when the officer reached in to help him out of the vehicle, this individual knocked the officers hand away. At that point the officer grabbed him inside the vehicle," said Tucker.
"The occupant then tried to move over to the driver’s side of the vehicle, and at that time the officer couldn’t see his hands so he pulled him out of the vehicle, and the two were involved in a tussle."
Tucker detailed the actions that occurred during the tussle.
“They both went to the ground and the passenger then tried to crawl up under the truck, which he did and made it about half way under the truck," said Tucker. "The officer was actually on the asphalt with him and)stopped him from going further up under the truck. About that time the state agents that were with him came around to assist."
Tucker continued, "They were able to drag him out from under the vehicle and the individual still refused to comply with direct orders to give his hands up to be handcuffed. His hands were up underneath his body on the asphalt, and they were eventually able to pull his hands out and get him cuffed."
"After they did that, they walked him over and sat him in the shade on the side of the road and called for an ambulance after he indicated his face was burned,” Tucker said.
According to Tucker, the deputy who was involved in the tussle did not receive any burns at all.
“The officer had a few scrapes on him but he had no burns on him,” Tucker said.
A post by Culpepper’s family to the Facebook page, “Justice for Brent Culpepper” tells a different story:
“An undercover Narcotics Deputy responded to the passenger side and asked Brent for his ID. Brent respectfully asked him why. Brent, having family who are former law enforcement, and being in the military plus doing 4 years as a local sheriff's explorer, knows his rights. As Brent was asking again why the deputy needed it, the Deputy opened the door, and at the same time grabbed him saying "Step out of the vehicle"...he slammed Brent's face into the asphalt. Brent tried telling him repeatedly that his face was burning (and screaming in agony), he tried to lift his face up but the deputy shoved his face back onto the burning hot asphalt (paramedics determined the asphalt was about 300 degrees). He told him if he didn't stop moving / fighting them he would be charged with resisting arrest. The deputy told him to shut up but he was screaming because he was in agony. He continued to tell him to shut up and stop moving. Even through the torture Brent told them he wasn't resisting arrest but that his face was being burned off. Two more deputy's jumped on Brent, all three on top of him, they held him down with their knees digging in to his back and their hands pressed on his face - they handcuffed him.”
Tucker was familiar with the specific post, and gave his on input.
“I can’t say who wrote the post but I know there are some false statements in there," Tucker said. "I know that because the officers involved indicated that none of them pushed this boy’s face into the asphalt, they didn’t brutalize him."
Tucker said the deputy involved is a good honest person and spoke highly of his character.
“We support him in it, and not only this officers character, but we have got at least six witnesses that were there that all saw this and they all state the same thing," he said. "None of them saw any of the officers push this young man’s face into the asphalt."
As far as how his face was burned and why the officer had no burns, Tucker was brief.
“I don’t know how his face was burned, but it wasn’t burned from officers pushing his face in the asphalt, that’s just not true,” he said.
The Facebook post regarding Culpepper also states, “Brent, having family who are former law enforcement, and being in the military plus doing 4 years as a local sheriff's explorer, knows his rights.”
According to Tucker, this statement is a little misleading.
Tucker took time to explain why Culpepper had to comply with the officer's requests.
“The officer was investigating a criminal complaint," Tucker said. "During that investigation, the driver who is compliant was arrested without incident, without injury and this young man did have an obligation to comply with the officers because it was an investigation that they were called to, and whether he wanted to be a part of it or not, he was, so the officer had every right to ask him for his ID, and the young man just failed to provide it."
Seven on your Side reached out to the legal representation of Culpepper, who is John Colette & Associates.
They stated at this time they had no comment on the matter, and could possibly release a statement next week.
The warrants signed for Culpepper include disorderly conduct failure to comply, resisting arrest and possession of beer in a dry county.
On Friday, September 11th, Chief Deputy Shane Tucker said that Culpepper turned himself in to the Pearl River County Sheriff's Department.
Tucker said the driver and Culpepper were both present with their attorney, and that the driver claimed ownership of the open container of alcohol that was in the vehicle.
"The charge we had for possession of beer in a dry county has been dismissed, but he was still charged with disorderly conduct failure to comply and resisting arrest," said Tucker.
Culpepper's bond was set at $500.00 for each of those two charges.