East Carolina University officials on Thursday condemned a “brutal group beating,” in which an African American man was seriously injured by a group of white suspects and then handcuffed by a white ECU police officer. The officer is now on leave pending an investigation into his response to the incident.
Three suspects were arrested Thursday by Greenville police and charged with two counts of assault inflicting serious bodily injury. They are: Theresa Marie Lee, 25, Mack Humbles, 26, and Mark Privette, 33, all of Greenville. Lee had been a student until Thursday, when she was suspended by ECU. Police are seeking a fourth suspect.
The victim, Patrick Myrick, 26, of Greenville, was treated for serious but non-life threatening injuries at Vidant Medical Center. Myrick is not a student at ECU.
“We are appalled by the brutality of the incident,” ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard said Thursday. “We’ll have zero tolerance for allowing these kind of things on our campus.”
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The March 17 incident began, Greenville police said, around 2 a.m. outside a downtown nightclub called Club 519, where a verbal altercation escalated into a physical confrontation. Police said Myrick struck a female in the face, knocking her to the ground. Several of the woman’s friends then assaulted Myrick outside a sandwich shop. They then chased him onto ECU’s campus near a dining hall, assaulting him a second time, police said.
Several ECU police officers arrived on the scene, and one of them handcuffed Myrick, ECU officials said. The department’s Office of Professional Standards is now reviewing a video of the incident and looking into the response by campus police.
What happened in the early morning of March 17 is not ECU. It’s not who we are, it’s not who we are as a people and it does not reflect any of our values.
Steve Ballard, East Carolina University chancellor
The ECU officer who is now on leave, a white male, was not identified by name. Several others responded to the scene, among them black, white and female officers, said ECU Police Chief Gerald Lewis, Jr.
“I don’t want to disclose the name of the officer at this point based on the fact that it’s still an ongoing internal investigation, but I can tell you that he has been an officer with us for a number of years,” Lewis said.
Ballard said the university would release the results of the investigation, including the video, once the probe is complete. He said ECU must take ownership of “this horrible incident” but said it is too early to draw definitive conclusions about people’s motivations.
“As chancellor of this university, I’m very concerned that race could have been a factor,” he said. “I’m not going to make conclusions on that until all the information is in from the investigation. Several white people chased a black person, and that certainly gives us reason to ask a lot of questions.”
The three suspects arrested were taken to the Pitt County Detention Center, where each was being held on $25,000 bail.
Greenville police said the female who was struck initially has said she would seek charges against Myrick. Officers cannot by law seek warrants for misdemeanors that occur outside of their presence, Greenville police said.
“What happened in the early morning of March 17 is not ECU,” Ballard said. “It’s not who we are, it’s not who we are as a people and it does not reflect any of our values.”