Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is defending the actions of one of his deputies seen on a video breaking up a fight on St. Pete Beach.
The video, which has been viewed a million times, captured Sgt. Bryan Bingham tussling with two men on St. Pete Beach on Sunday.
On the video, you can see Bingham grab 25-year-old Joshua McMahan by the neck and throw him to the ground. Bingham said he used a pressure point technique on the jawline and directed McMahan to the ground after he spit in his face.
"So what Sgt. Bingham did was use appropriate pressure point techniques on his jaw, (McMahan) started spitting back at him and started resisting him so he took him to the ground," Gualtieri said. "And he’s surrounded by a crowd of 200-300 people, by the way, very few of which came to Sgt. Bingham’s aid."
In another part of the video, Bingham is seen putting 24-year-old Justin Lewis in a sleeper hold.
"That was me being in a situation where it is actually equivalent to a deadly force scenario," Bingham said. "Where again, my main goal is to maintain control of that situation and being justified to do anything at that point in time to make sure I go home at the end of the day and everyone else is safe."
Gualtieri said Bingham would've been justified in using deadly force in this situation and that he used appropriate techniques.
"Sgt. Bingham did what he had to do to protect himself and the others out there and he handled the situation extremely well given the circumstances. We're fortunate that he wasn't hurt,” he said.
Gualtieri said Bingham's backup arrived just over two minutes from when he radioed for help and that there's adequate staffing on the beach for spring break. The sheriff also said the two men who were arrested just got out of prison and are "thugs," not spring breakers.
Bingham, who some people are referring to on-line as Sergeant Hulk and Sergeant Stud, said he's surprised at all the attention he's getting.
"It's humbling, very, very, humbling. And like I said before, one of the main points I want to stress, I am a quiet individual. I'm a humble individual. All I did was simply do my job," he said. "I appreciate the overwhelming public support for simply doing my job. I routinely answered a simple call for help."
The sheriff said there's not going to be an Internal Affairs investigation because Bingham did everything right that day on the beach.
Both McMahan and Lewis were charged with felony battery on a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct.