Most residents of Columbia have at least once made the two-drive southeast to Charleston to enjoy its horse-drawn carriages, cobblestone streets, architecture and restaurants. The city’s carefully cultivated image as a tourist destination took a hit recently when a police officer was arrested for third-degree assault and battery after he allegedly hit a handcuffed suspect.
The 35-year-old officer had been suspended without pay since the July 1 incident. Supervising Charleston officers and the State Law Enforcement Division both conducted investigations. The state agency arrested the officer after concluding its inquiry.
According to news reports, several Charleston officers responded to calls about a man who was apparently testing car door handles and walking around homes. When responding officers tried to arrest the suspect, he fought and then ran away, seriously injuring an officer.
The recently arrested cop and his supervisor chased the man and then arrested him for trespassing, jaywalking and evading arrest. After he was handcuffed, the officer struck him, according to reports.
A body cam recorded the incident.
The city’s police chief said that “use of force is a critical part of what we do,” though he stressed that it should only be in situations in which it’s “appropriate and reasonable and justified.”
Once suspects “are in custody, they’ve got handcuffs on and they’ve given up, that’s when force ceases.”
According to a Fox News report, the officer recently arrested was named Charleston’s “Police Officer of the Year” in 2014.
A conviction on a charge of third-degree assault (a misdemeanor) can result in a sentence of up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
These are the kinds of incidents that undermine police credibility and make it clear why no one should assume a person is guilty just because they have been charged with a crime.