Is it an increase in police brutality in South Carolina that’s making such incidents appear more frequently in the news? Maybe improvements in consumer technology that allows them to be recorded and publicly distributed? Or is it simply the fact that the public tolerance of abuse by law enforcement is at an all-time low, pressuring police departments and judges to crack down on offenders? If either or any combination, those factors resulted in other recent legal actions against police in the Palmetto State, this time in two rural towns in the state’s northwest region.
John Bell and Robert Shaw were recently fired from their jobs as police officers, the Honea Path Police Dept. confirmed on April 29, due to evidence of abuse during an arrest last year.
On Nov. 14, 2014, Bell and Shaw stopped a vehicle driven by Brian Hatcher following a chase, they reported. The officers claimed Hatcher was compliant at first, but then displayed a knife, leading the officers to take whatever means necessary to arrest him.
The method used to complete that arrest is what raised a red flag, however. Hatcher needed immediate hospitalization for reconstructive surgery of his face.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division opened investigation of the incident after Hatcher’s family made complaint. SLED’s investigation is still ongoing, local CBS affiliate WBTW-13 reports, but has already realized enough evidence to merit Bell’s and Shaw’s dismissal.
In an April 29 press release, the local police department said:
Based on information provided by SLED and after meeting with (the) Solicitor’s Office, the HPPD has no option other than to terminate these two officers.
In another incident, but for which fewer details are available, Anderson police officer Lawyer Scott was recently arrested. According to WHNS in Greenville, an unidentified woman filed complaint with SLED that Scott assaulted her in March while he was on duty.
After a SLED review, Scott was released from the Anderson Police Dept. on April 27 and was arrested on April 29 on charges of assault, misconduct, and second-degree battery.
These two cases bring the April 2015 totals to seven South Carolina police officers punished in some way for five different incidents of misconduct. The other incidents include:
- On April 7, North Charleston policeman Michael Slager was arrested for the now globally-infamous incident of shooting unarmed Walter Scott eight times in the back three days earlier.
- Also on April 7, North Augusta officer Justin Craven was indicted for shooting and killing a black senior citizen in his own car in Feb., 2014.
- On April 28, former Marion officers Erik Walton and Franklin Brown were sentenced to prison for a 2013 incident in which they used a Taser eight times against a mentally-disabled woman who was not committing any crime.
Featured image: Public domain via Wikimedia