Andrew Dys

March 13, 2014

York County residents rely on sheriff’s office

Sheriff’s office dealing with fallout from two shootings in the past three weeks- a driver during a traffic stop, and a dog.

On Feb. 25 – just a few hours before a York County sheriff’s deputy shot a 70-year-old man during a Clover traffic stop, believing he was reaching for a weapon that turned out to be a cane – a woman near Clover called the sheriff’s office for help.

She was distraught. She had been sexually assaulted.

“They came right out to talk to me,” said the woman, whom The Herald is not identifying because of the nature of the crime. “It was pretty nerve-racking, but they were very nice.”

Deputies took the report and conducted additional interviews, learning that children were in the home where the assault happened. The man who allegedly attacked the woman, Reginald Rayard White, 26, is in jail without bond, on three drug charges, two counts of neglect toward children, and first-degree sexual assault.

“The police were there when I needed them,” the woman said. “They still are. I have a victim advocate who helps me.”

That woman was one of 228 people who called the sheriff’s office for help that day. Deputies responded every time.

A week later, on March 4, 261 people called for help, and deputies responded. That was the day a deputy responding to a family member’s request to check on a woman shot her dog after the deputy said “the dog charged” at him.

Both shootings have riled the public and brought the use of force by deputies to the front pages. Both, unquestionably, deserve the scrutiny of investigators and the public.

Sheriff Bruce Bryant, defended the actions of both deputies, saying his officers often have to make split-second decisions. On Wednesday, he released dashcam videos of both incidents.

But what happened throughout the rest of each of those days also merits attention.

The Herald reviewed every incident report deputies wrote up on the days of both shootings.

Feb. 25

Deputies wrote 25 reports from the 228 calls for service the sheriff’s office received on Feb. 25.

There were no other shootings that day – either at police, or by police.

Pat Blackwood, 60, owner of the Line-X business on Celanese Road in Rock Hill, was one of the people who called police that day. She had noticed that someone had tampered with her business’ roll-up doors. Her business was at risk. She could be at risk. A deputy told her of several break-ins nearby.

“He treated me like I was important; he made me feel safer,” she said. “And they have been keeping an eye out ever since.”

Robert Breyon also called police that day. A former tenant had threatened to kill him, Breyon told police, and he wanted to document the incident, but not press charges. He learned that his former tenant had been arrested just four days earlier for allegedly threatening a deputy.

A woman in York called police around 4:30 p.m. Feb. 25, three hours before the deputy shot the motorist at the traffic stop. Her 18-year-old son, whom she said has a disability and can’t defend himself, had been attacked by another teen who called her disabled son a “snitch” after he had complained about being bullied.

The suspect allegedly went to the victim’s house and beat him into a daze, leaving him on the floor after the beating.

The Herald is not naming the victim or his mother because she fears reprisals against her son.

“The deputies came right away and immediately did a search,” the mother said. “They handled it really well. We were scared, and they were very reassuring. When I needed them, they were right here.”

The shooting at the traffic stop was the only incident Feb. 25, records show, during which a deputy had to fire a gun. That decision, while unfortunate, is part of the job of a police officer, said state Rep. Tommy Pope, R-York, a former police officer and former prosecutor.

During his time as 16th Circuit solicitor, from 1993 through 2006, Pope reviewed several police shootings to determine if there were any criminal wrongdoing. The officer on Feb. 25, Pope said, had to make that “split-second decision” after Bobby Canipe got out of his vehicle during a traffic stop and reached into the bed of his truck.

No one wants to see anyone get shot, Pope said, but Deputy Terrance Knox appears to have acted in way that is consistent with how police are trained.

No one should get out of a vehicle during a traffic stop unless instructed to do so, he said.

“Officers must be able to act on appearances, to react to what they see in front of them,” Pope said. “If you don’t allow officers to act on appearances, the result is more dead officers.”

The State Law Enforcement Division is reviewing the evidence, after which prosecutors will decide what happens next, if anything. That process ensures the public has confidence in its safety when deadly force is used, Pope said.

Other calls to the sheriff’s office for help on Feb. 25 included alleged larcenies, fraud, vandalism, trespassing. One man reported that he had been bitten by his sister’s dog.

March 4

Deputies wrote 22 reports from the 261 calls for service the sheriff’s office received on March 4.

It was a slow day, according to those reports. There were two cases of fraudulent use of credit cards, someone broke into a vehicle, a case of disorderly conduct and other crimes. There were traffic stops for drugs and DUI – even a bust of two women who fraudulently tried to get narcotics at a pharmacy. Police responded to each call, however mundane.

The March 4 reports also show that deputies do respond to claims of excessive force by their own officers who work for the sheriff’s office. Akeem Abdullah-Malik, 51, of Charlotte an inmate waiting for a court date, told jailers that he wanted to file a report for assault against a guard. York County Detention Center officers are employees of the sheriff’s office.

A deputy and a detective wrote down Abdullah-Malik’s claim that a deputy had put his hands on Abdullah-Malik’s arm during a search of the inmate’s cell. Abdullah-Malik claimed the search was unwarranted and had done nothing to provoke it.

Surveillance video from the jail showed what really happened. Investigators learned from the video that Abdullah-Malik did not comply when officers asked him to remove his head covering during the search. The officer performing the search “did place his hands on the forearm of Abdullah-Malik to maintain control while he removed it himself,” the report states.

The allegation of assault was cleared, the report shows.

Six days later, records show, Abdullah-Malik pleaded guilty to burglary and was sentenced to five years in prison.

But one officer did shoot a dog March 4. The dog was “snarling with bared teeth,” Deputy Jonathan Reed wrote in his incident report.

In that incident Reed was responding to a welfare check request – all the way from Virginia. The caller told police she had not spoken to her mother in six days, so deputies went to the woman’s home on Clara Street in Rock Hill. Video clearly shows another officer knocking on the door repeatedly, while Reed walked around the side of the house.

The dog is heard barking on an audio recording from Reed’s microphone. Reed shot the dog in the head, saying afterward in his report that he had no time for a less lethal response.

Reed’s use of his gun to protect himself from the dog has been the subject of outrage from some, never mind that he had – on his own time – helped a York County family rebuild their home in 2012 after finding them living without heat and running water.

Reed later learned from a neighbor that the dog had once tried to bite the neighbor’s niece.

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