Editor’s note: This story contains a link to a graphic video that some people mind find disturbing.
SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A woman arrested in Surfside Beach in August 2021 claims in a lawsuit that an officer used excessive force and violated her civil rights while taking her into custody after a traffic stop.
Jessica Melton made the allegations in a lawsuit filed in Horry County Common Pleas Court against the Surfside Beach Police Department and Sgt. John Gambone.
Melton is represented by the Georgetown-based Evans Moore law firm, which has posted an edited version of dashcam video on YouTube that shows the traffic stop and subsequent arrest.
According to the lawsuit, Gambone pulled over the vehicle Melton was in on Aug. 8, 2021, and arrested her on a pending warrant.
The lawsuit did not specify the nature of the warrant, but it claims that Gambone did not explain it to Melton and alleges that he denied multiple requests by her to get her prescription medications before she was arrested and taken to jail.
In response to her requests, the lawsuit claims that Gambone said he was “gonna take [her] to the ground and hurt [her]” for resisting arrests. It also claims that he “excessively and
violently threw Ms. Melton to the ground, face first, causing her to lose consciousness and suffer
from serious, permanent injuries to her face and brain” even though she posed no immediate threat or flight risk.
Melton’s lawsuit also accuses the police department of negligence for failing to properly train officers, including Gambone, and for failing to implement “adequate policies and procedures regarding traffic stops and arrests.”
Gambone worked with the Myrtle Beach Police Department from 1996 to 2001 and then again from 2010-2014, according to documents. He began working with the Surfside Beach Police Department in 2015.
Gambone is still employed by the Town of Surfside Beach Police Department, according to Surfside Beach PIO Robert Blomquist.
The lawsuit does not specify the amount of damages being sought.