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A police officer has been suspended while officials investigate a video shared on social media that appears to show him shoving and aggressively restraining five people at a Walmart in North Carolina.
The two-minute video shared on TikTok, Facebook and YouTube shows five separate interactions with a Pembroke police officer, identified as Sgt. Timothy Ryan Locklear, who is also the town’s fire chief. One version of the video posted on Facebook just before midnight Monday contains a “sensitive content” warning and has been shared more than 800 times. (Note: The linked post contains graphic language.)
It wasn’t immediately clear when the incidents occurred or who filmed them. Pembroke Police Chief Ed Locklear, Mayor Charles Cummings and Town Manager Tyler Thomas did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on Thursday.
But in a statement provided to The Robesonian and other news outlets, the chief confirmed they are were made aware of the video on Monday.
“The department has reviewed the video and the matter is currently being investigated. The State Bureau of Investigation is assisting with the investigation,” the chief said, adding, “the officer has been placed on administrative suspension pending the outcome of the investigation.”
The police chief and Timothy Locklear share a last name but are not related, according to WRAL.
In the first part on the video, two women are seen sitting on a bench with the Walmart logo on the wall behind them. One of the women moves off screen with an officer. When they return, the officer appears to slam her against the wall while holding one arm behind her back.
He then puts his knee on the bench and appears to push her shoulder back while restraining her arm and shoving her against the other woman.
The video then cuts to a second scene in which two officers grab a man by his shoulders and throw him on the bench. In the next cut, another man in an orange shirt is seen flying backwards against a wall in what appears to be the same room. He gets up and is immediately shoved back down.
Similar struggles ensued with the fourth and fifth people seen in the tape. None of the videos have sound from the scene in question.
Warning: This video may contain content some viewers find disturbing.
The video was reportedly filmed at a Walmart on N.C. Highway 711 in Pembroke, about 100 miles south of Raleigh near the South Carolina border. Pembroke is home to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina in Robeson County and has a population of just over 3,000 — more than 50% of whom are identified in U.S. Census records as American Indian or Alaska Native.
The police chief told WRAL he believes the officers were responding to shoplifting complaints when the video was taken.
“Our officers spend a good bit of time down there doing larceny calls, and more than likely, it was dealing with something about a larceny call or a trespassing call,” he said, according to the TV station.