GREENVILLE, N.C. -- A North Carolina university is conducting an internal review after one of its white police officers handcuffed a black man who had just been brutally beaten by four white people.
East Carolina University officials were appalled by the incident, which began off campus, but spilled onto the university when the man running from a beating was caught and beaten again near a dining hall, Chancellor Steve Ballard said Thursday in a statement to students.
"We understand the investigation thus far provides no confirmation that race played a role. We hope that to be the case, and we urge our campus and community to let the process work," Ballard said in his statement.
The incident began early March 17 when Patrick Myrick hit a woman in the face and she fell to the ground, Greenville Police said in news release.
Several people ran to Myrick and began beating him up, then chased him and beat him again. He suffered serious injuries and had to be taken to the hospital, police said.
Three of the white suspects have been arrested. Theresa Marie Lee, 25; Mack Humbles, 26; and Mark Privette, 33, are all charged with felony assault inflicting serious bodily injury. It wasn't known whether any had lawyers to speak on their behalf. Working phone numbers couldn't be found for the suspects.
Police are seeking the fourth suspect.
Lee was an East Carolina University student but is no longer enrolled, according to the school.
"We are appalled by the brutality of the incident. We will have zero tolerance for allowing these kind of things on our campus," Ballard said during a press conference Thursday.
The East Carolina University Police Department is also conducting an internal review of its officer who handcuffed Myrick. Officials did not name the officer but said he is on leave and not on campus.
Authorities said the officer did not use any violence against Myrick and a videotape of the incident is being reviewed.
Under North Carolina law, police officers can't charge Myrick with hitting the woman because they have to see the crime take place for a misdemeanor charge. But police said the woman has told investigators she wants to obtain an arrest warrant against him.
ECU students shared their reactions to the news with CBS affiliate WNCT.
"It makes me a littler more weary, like stay out of trouble, don't be by yourself. They should be there to help you but things could always go wrong," said ECU Freshman Barbara Garfinkle.
Another student, Nick Fullenwider, told WNCT he wants to hold off on judgment until the investigation is complete, adding that he hopes the school would be transparent.
"As long as we get more of that, I think that would go a long way to helping the situation all over the country," he said.