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ECU official: Police are accountable

The chancellor of East Carolina University says police officers who roughed up football fans as they ran onto the field after a victory last weekend will be held accountable.

The university's police department is investigating complaints that officers used excessive force at the end of the East Carolina-West Virginia game Saturday.

Video shows some fans being knocked down by police. University police Chief Scott Shelton said the assessment of what happened may continue into next week.

“These incidents are the most disappointing and shocking I've witnessed in my more than four years here,” Ballard said Monday. “I promise we will get to the bottom of this and the officers responsible will be held accountable.”

Student body president Drew Griffin told the (Kinston) Free Press that before the game ended, police officers streamed to the sidelines and began taunting fans on the other side of a fence

“Hey, if you come over the fence, you're going to get taken down,” Griffin said officers told those around him.

Despite the warnings, people began jumping – or being pushed – over the fence in a mad rush to get onto the field, he said.

“I saw the first person that went jumped over the fence,” Griffin said. “The guy sprinted over and tackled him, pinned him to the ground.”

The officer had a knee planted on the person's back and was holding down his neck, he said.

Griffin said he disagreed with those who have called what happened after the Pirates' win a riot.

“For me, a riot has people fighting cops, has people breaking things,” he said. “No one went for the goal post. … For me, this was just a large group of people celebrating the biggest win in ECU's history.”

University police Chief Scott Shelton said the investigation may not be complete until next week, The Daily Reflector of Greenville reported Tuesday.

Shelton told a news conference that an officer seen hitting someone who was on the ground has been identified, but he wouldn't release the information.

The chief also said he would be reluctant to use officers from outside Greenville and Pitt County to provide security at future games. The only other officers at Saturday's game came from Lenoir County and the city of Kinston.

Shelton said any discipline would be handled by the agency that employs an officer.

“Other jurisdictions have other problems and are not familiar with the problems and issues we may have here at East Carolina University at large events, celebrations,” Shelton said. “They make take a different point of view, they may have been trained differently, they may react differently.”

Shelton has said officers were told to try to deter fans just by being present, but to step aside if that failed.

The (Kinston) Free Press contributed.
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