The charge against one of the two Columbia police officers accused of using excessive force against a South Carolina football player has been dismissed, but a special prosecutor plans to move forward with the case against the other cop.
First Circuit solicitor David Pascoe last week dismissed the misconduct in office charge against Roger Gilland, who, along with David Beddingfield Jr., was indicted for using unnecessary force while arresting Gamecocks offensive lineman Kevin Young following a fight in Five Points last March.
The two officers have been suspended without pay since they were indicted in August. Leigh Leventis, Gilland's attorney, hopes Gilland can rejoin the force next week.
"Obviously, my client and I are ecstatic and excited," Leventis said. "This favorable disposition is consistent with what Roger maintained all along. We are just glad that this day has gotten here."
Meanwhile, Columbia attorney Mark Whitlark has filed a motion to dismiss the charge against Beddingfield, saying Beddingfield passed a polygraph test during which he was asked whether he had punched Young.
The indictments stated that besides using excessive force, the officers had misrepresented the facts of the incident. Whitlark's motion also contends that the misconduct in office statute does not apply to Beddingfield because he is not an elected or appointed official.
Pascoe was assigned the case in November because the Fifth Circuit solicitor's office believed it would be a conflict to prosecute Columbia officers.
Pascoe said Friday he dropped the charge against Gilland after his office completed its investigation, led by retired Dorchester County sheriff Ray Nash. Pascoe declined to comment further because of the pending charge against Beddingfield.
If convicted of the misconduct charge, Beddingfield could face a year in prison and $1,000 fine. Pascoe has discussed the possibility of bringing an additional assault charge against Beddingfield, according to Whitlark.
"I'm confident that when the truth comes out, it will be shown that officer Beddingfield and officer Gilland used the proper procedure and were totally justified in all the actions they took that night," Whitlark said.
Beddingfield and Gilland were responding to an early-morning fight between Young and a West Columbia man that started in a Five Points bar and continued outside on Harden Street. The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Young claims he was punched repeatedly in the face and sustained a bloody nose while being subdued.
Fighting and resisting arrest charges against Young were later dropped.
Neal Lourie, Young's attorney, said he wants whoever punched Young to be held responsible.
"We don't want anyone prosecuted who's innocent, and we want whatever officer punched him in the face to be held accountable," Lourie said.