Bodycam shows Augusta deputy hitting another deputy in the back of the head with a flashlight

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This February marks four years since the night deputy Brandon Keathley struck deputy Nick Nunes in the back of the head with a flashlight as they were working to perform CPR on a 17-year-old dying from gunshot wounds.

A grand jury indicted Keathley. In December 2020, he was arrested on charges of aggravated assault and aggravated assault on a peace officer, but nearly three years since that arrest, his case still hasn’t been to court.

The I-TEAM uncovered the delays come at a high cost, the first being money. Brandon Keathley has been on paid administrative for three years. During that time, taxpayers have been paying the deputy to not come to work.

But, a second cost is also transparency.

Because this case hasn’t been to trial, the body cam video is not in the public record; a source gave it to the I-TEAM. For months, the I-TEAM has been investigating how the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office investigates itself, and this could be yet another example that raises questions about who’s policing the police.

The I-TEAM received a total of four clips. The longest one begins the night of February 7, 2020 with deputies pulling 17-year-old DeAngelo Burns out of the passenger side of a car. He appears to be limp and unresponsive. You can hear deputies say they need to get his clothes off. They know he’s been shot, but they need to find exactly where the bullet hit. Responding deputies are still searching for the wound, when the video shows deputy Nick Nunes come into frame thirty seconds later. “Talk to me,” Nunes said. “What do we got?”

The deputies on scene told Nunes they don’t know. They’re still trying to find where he’s bleeding.

The video is hard to watch, even after blurring graphic images.

A young man lost his life that night.

The heated exchange between Nunes and Keathley begins.

Keathley: “Nunes, step back.”

Nunes: “I’m f***ing working on him, dude. I’m - get the f*** away. Don’t f***ing push me when I’m f***ing working.”

At this point in the video, a sound is heard.

Nunes: “Dude – did you just f***ing hit me? Did you just f***ing hit me with the flashlight, dude?”

Another deputy’s body cam captured Keathley strike Nunes in the head. The video shows another deputy race to the scene. He runs toward the group of deputies working on Burns, and just as he stops, Keathley is seen striking Nunes.

Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree held a news conference four days after the incident happened.

“This is embarrassing not just to those deputies but to this agency,” he said.

He suspended Brandon Keathley for 30 days without pay. He also gave Nick Nunes a written reprimand.

Nick Nunes resigned from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, and not long after, left the area.

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