DA investigates alleged abuse by Butte County deputy

Investigators reveal a brawl happened before arrest

OROVILLE, Calif. - A Butte County deputy has been reassigned from his patrol duties because of an online video that shows him kicking a man to the ground while he was trying to arrest him.

A witness caught Deputy Sam Burnett on camera Tuesday morning outside the Trinity Bible Church on Myers Street in Oroville. He was in an apparent fight with a man named Terry Collins, and eventually took him into custody.

Further investigation into the footage has investigators saying there is a lot more to the story before this even happened.

"Look at that, he just kicked him the [expletive] face," said the witness on the video.

The video was later posted to Facebook.

"That's what prompted us to initiate an internal affairs investigation," said Butte County Sheriff, Kory Honea.

He said the video was recorded moments after a fight broke out between the two.

Surveillance video from the Mini-Mart gas station shows where the deputy and suspect met.

"Mr. Collins immediately became aggressive and refused Deputy Burnett's request to put his hands behind his back," said Honea.

"Hey, he was f---ing that cop up," said the witness on the video.

Honea said the two exchanged blows. Ultimately, the deputy was able to break free and suffered a broken wrist.

"He did that because he was concerned that if he leaned in to try to grab Mr. Collins that he might get kicked or hit again," he said. "He was also concerned that he moved in closer, Mr. Collins might grab him and take him to the ground."

The Butte County District Attorney's Office said they discovered Collins was kicked in the right shoulder rather than the face. No facial injuries are seen in his mug shot.

"As we go through the tape, the officer doesn't take any retribution against Mr. Collins. There is nothing that he is doing angry or out of control," said Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey.

He said the law states an officer can use reasonable force to protect his or herself and the community when dealing with a suspect.

"This is from our U.S. Supreme Court saying you have to understand: one the context, and two the stress the officer was placed on if the officer didn't engender that, and obviously in the case he didn't," said Ramsey.

Collins has prior incidents where he has resisted arrest. Both the district attorney and the Sheriff's Office said they can't say whether this act was justified until the investigation is over.

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