5 Deputies Disciplined Following Trump Rally Where Protester Was Sucker-Punched

The officers were disciplined after a protester was sucker-punched on March 9.

ByABC News
March 16, 2016, 7:58 PM

— -- Five North Carolina deputies have been disciplined following Donald Trump's rally in Fayetteville on March 9, when a supporter allegedly sucker-punched a protester in the face as he was being escorted out of the venue.

Three deputies were demoted in rank and each were suspended for five days without pay, while two other deputies were suspended for three days without pay "for unsatisfactory performance and the failure to discharge their duties," the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

All five deputies have been reprimanded and placed in a probationary status for the next 12 months, the sheriff's office said. They were disciplined following a following a professional standards investigation following the events at the Crown Coliseum, where Trump's rally was held.

"The actions of the deputies and their failures to act in situations such as that which occurred during the Trump rally at the Crown Coliseum have never been and will not ever be tolerated under the policies of this office," Sheriff Earl Butler said in the statement.

According to the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office, the deputies who were disciplined have been "vigilant" and "have shown great bravery and fortitude" in the past.

"I have taken into account the past bravery and exemplary conduct, including the life-saving and other actions of these deputies in assessing the discipline, and in imposing the sanctions," Butler said, adding that he "regrets" the circumstances that occurred at the Trump rally.

The 78-year-old man who allegedly sucker-punched the protester, John Franklin McGraw, was not immediately detained by police because officers said they didn't witness the punch. After video surfaced of the incident, McGraw was charged with assault and disorderly conduct.

It was not clear if McGraw had obtained a lawyer or entered a plea. Trump said Sunday that he instructed his team to look into paying McGraw's legal fees.

In the days following the rally, the sheriff's office determined that Trump and his campaign would not face charges of inciting a riot.

After the incident, Trump began to receive more criticism from his opponents for inciting violence among his supporters.