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'I'm not a troubled person' | Travis Price, attorneys lambast Rock Hill police narrative about viral arrest

Justin Bamberg says Price was choked and tackled by Rock Hill police, and shared new video in a press conference Monday.

ROCK HILL, S.C. — Editor's Note: On July 8, the charge against Travis Price was dropped, and the Rock Hill Police Department announced one of the police officers involved had been fired. The announcements were made the same day the York County Solicitor's Office released bodycam videos showing the viral arrest. 

Original reporting continues below.

Attorneys representing Travis Price say new surveillance video from a gas station shows officers with the Rock Hill Police Department "manhandled" Price, despite complying fully with orders during an arrest that was captured on a viral video that also showed his brother, Ricky Price, taken to the ground and punched by officers.

During a press conference held Monday afternoon, attorney and South Carolina state representative Justin Bamberg played more than six minutes of video captured on the surveillance system set up at the gas station where the arrest happened. Bamberg was joined by Montrio Belton, a local criminal defense attorney who was representing Travis Price only. 

The video shows the encounter already underway around 2:13 p.m. on June 23, with one Rock Hill police cruiser flashing lights as a police SUV arrives to assist, lights flashing after stopping. Ricky Price is seen with officers as a search of his car, partly obscured by another car and a gas pump, takes place. Travis doesn't enter the picture until 2:18 p.m., wearing a green shirt as he approaches officers. One officer appears to command him to back up, which Travis appears to comply with. 

The arrest of Ricky appears to be underway by around 2:19 p.m., and Travis appears to again approach officers, who then back him up against a white tank. He raises his hands, and at that point, an officer takes Travis to the ground. 

As Rock Hill police earlier stated in their own narrative, Ricky Price reportedly was pulled over for making an illegal turn, and officers say they found a handgun and drugs in his car. Officers say they initially handcuffed him but then took the handcuffs off to allow him to supposedly take jewelry off to give to someone else on the scene. But RHPD says Ricky tried to run and punched at least one officer, before being taken to the ground. Travis Price, according to police, tried to interfere in the arrest and tried using his body to bump officers backward while reaching for Ricky's belongings. He also was accused of shoving officers and refusing to comply with orders.

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But during the Monday press conference, Belton and Bamberg say Rock Hill police tried to paint Travis as a criminal in the official narrative.

"And we're gonna fix that today because that ain't the truth," Bamberg said, holding up a paper that showed the state records for Travis from the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). The page was largely blank.

"No arrest data," Bamberg said. "Travis has no criminal background. This is one of the blankest pages you'll ever see unless your computer just runs out of ink."

As Bamberg played the video, he noted there was no audio from the surveillance system and said the same video was in the possession of RHPD. He took time to pause the video at different times, breaking down what was observed. According to Bamberg, Travis had happened to be passing by and saw Ricky's car during the investigation, parking in a spot to see what was happening. According to Bamberg, Ricky Price told officers his brother was approaching and supposedly agreed with them that Travis could take his belongings as the arrest was ongoing. Bamberg said Travis Price was told to step back and complied and was told by officers to stay in his position until he was told he could get Ricky's belongings. 

Bamberg said the characterization of Travis Price as "belligerent" was wrong, and showed what he said was an officer handing Travis his brother's belongings, with nothing flaring up at that point. Bamberg says officers handed Travis his brother's belongings two more times, before cornering him against the white tank. Travis raises his hands as an officer grabs his wrists, Bamberg said, and Travis reportedly told another officer on scene he was obeying commands before an officer on Travis' left grabs him by the throat.

"Travis didn't go contact anybody. Somebody came up, wearing a badge and uniform, and choking the kid," Bamberg said. "This is inaccurate. This is slanderous!"

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Bamberg showed the items Rock Hill police were reportedly handing to Travis: jewelry, sunglasses, and a hat, all from Ricky. After further showing more stills from the surveillance footage, Bamberg continued to lambast the initial narrative released by Rock Hill PD, while also wondering why the officer handing Travis his brother's belongings didn't step in.

"When you put out false statements about citizens and say they did this and that, this and that, and used their body to bump you, effectively assault you as a police officer and it didn't happen," Bamberg said. "I want to know the cop, who's actually looking at Travis, why hasn't he said anything? He knows an innocent man is being charged with hindering an investigation, hindering police. He's the one handing him all this stuff."

Bamberg then looked at his watch, noting it was 1:30 p.m. at the time of the press conference. He made a demand: that by close of business, the city of Rock Hill drop the charges against Travis Price.

Travis then spoke for the first time to the media, saying he wanted his dignity back after the arrest.

"I don't like my name being scandalized and you know, people putting out this and that on me," he said. "That's not the case. I mean, I'm 33 with no record, so that explains enough. I'm not a troubled person, I'm a humble guy, and that's that."

Belton spoke after Travis made his statement, wanting to clarify that this was not an attack on law enforcement, saying criticism can get twisted.

"We're here today because law enforcement has this information. They chose to write a statement they knew was false. Very easily, the top brass at the police department could have pulled the body cams of the officers at the scene and at the minimum written a letter to the media that was accurate," he said. "So we, on our own, had to go and get the information. And even though in America you should be innocent until proven guilty, that was an attempt at a smear campaign on this 33-year-old Rock Hill High School graduate, family man, works every day, who has no criminal record."

WCNC Charlotte received the following statement from RHPD after requesting comment:

The investigation into the arrests of Travis Price and Rickey Price is still ongoing. Both the Rock Hill Police Department and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) are working to review the use of force, along with the criminal cases against both Ricky and Travis Price. At this time charges against both defendants will remain in place during the investigation.

SLED has requested no videos be released for viewing until their agents have completed interviewing witnesses which the police department will honor to make sure the investigation is comprehensive as possible.

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