Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott apologized for the actions of a deputy he fired during a news conference Wednesday.
"There's no excuse," Lott said. "I'm here standing saying I'm sorry, I wish it would have never happened. I wish I could of prevented it from happening, [but] I could of not prevented it from happening that night, I was not there. If I would have been there I would have done something to keep it from happening."
Ex-deputy Allen Derrick, 49, was caught on cell phone video at the Buffalo Wild Wings on Devine Street handcuffing, screaming and yanking a female soldier around at a sports bar Oct. 7.
Lott spoke extensively for the first time about the actions of Derrick.
"I apologize for his actions," Lott said. "I apologize to everybody that saw it, everybody who heard it and everybody who's subjected to it.
Lott said Derrick, a former firefighter who spent 14 years with the sheriff's department, apparently chose to try to subdue Ball because he thought she was drunk.
Derrick had been drinking too but it's not clear whether he was impaired and police did not charge him with being intoxicated.
But Lott said Derrick violated several policies one, by getting his gun out of his truck along with his handcuffs and taking the weapon into the bar. Why he thought he needed a gun, also not clear.
"I can't explain what was in his mind and what he did that night," Lott said. "All I can say is it is not acceptable."
During the altercation, Derrick repeatedly berated Ball, a soldier at Fort Jackson, suggesting she was not as tough as a Marine.
Lott says there's no indication Derrick in fact, is a member of the Marine Corps.
Reaction to cell phone video of the events has been harsh coming from all over the country.
"I don't know what people expect me to do, you know, hang him at town square, if that would have solved the problem, I would do that, but I can't do that," Lott said. "I can terminate him and make sure he never works in law enforcement again and I'll do all I can to make sure that that does happen."
Lott added there's absolutely no reason, no excuse for his activity and for his behavior that night.
Derrick is still facing assault charges filed by Columbia police.
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