GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Matt Holton, a Greenville officer, was attacked by a suspect that was arrested for armed robbery Wednesday evening, according to the Greenville Police Department.
GPD said Bobby Ray Lankford, Jr., 24, was being brought in for questioning when he told the arresting officer his handcuffs were too tight. When Holton attempted to loosen the handcuffs, Lankford, Jr. attacked the officer right outside of the Police Department in Uptown Greenville.
“This suspect was fully intent on hurting our officer. Not escaping but hurting our officer. He even tried to take his weapon off his belt which we know what that ends in. A deadly situation,” said Chief Mark Holtzman of the Greenville Police Department.
Video surveillance showed the suspect slamming Holton to the concrete, assaulting him numerous times and dragging the officer while attempting to grab the officer’s weapon. During the assault, Lankford, Jr. said he would kill Officer Holton.
Chief Holtzman went on to elaborate on suspects asking to loosen handcuffs being a normal thing.
“It is a common request from a suspect to loosen the cuffs. They are very uncomfortable so you do have to show some degree of compassion when you’re transporting somebody. But it’s that compassion that can sometimes get you in trouble and, in this case, it was completely taken advantage of by the suspect,” Holtzman explained.
An off-duty firefighter and another Good Samaritan saw the altercation and stepped in to help. GPD said it is likely the officer could have been killed if the two did not intervene.
There is video of the incident, but it won’t be released until the case goes to court. It is now a criminal investigation.
Officer Holton sustained visible injuries but was released from Vidant Medical Center Thursday.
GPD said they plan to honor the firefighter and Good Samaritan that stepped in along with dispatchers that helped in a ceremony next week.