Chester man, mother file false arrest lawsuit against Chester Sheriff’s Office

The Chester County man and his mother whom prosecutors say were wrongfully arrested by sheriff’s deputies before the indictment of the former Chester sheriff have both filed lawsuits claiming false arrest.

Kevin Simpson and his mother, Ernestine, filed the lawsuits late Friday in Chester County civil court, court records show. The lawsuits allege false arrest, malicious prosecution, negligence and violation of the Simpsons’ Constitutional rights.

The lawsuits name the Chester County Sheriff’s Office as the defendant.

Kevin Simpson broadcast a cellphone video on Facebook Live in November 2018 of a confrontation with then sheriff Alex Underwood near a vehicle crash site, court documents show.

Underwood, the former sheriff who arrested Simpson and his mother, was indicted by federal prosecutors in May for his handling of the incident. Underwood was suspended from office the same day.

The charges against Simpson and his mother were dropped the day after Underwood was indicted.

Simpson told The Herald the whole incident could have been avoided but the deputies arrested him and his mother.

The Simpsons’ lawyer, Everett Stubbs, said the Simpsons never should have been arrested and never engaged in any criminal behavior.

Kevin Simpson spent three nights and four days in jail after his arrest, documents show.

No response to Friday’s lawsuit has yet been filed by Chester County Sheriff’s Office lawyers.

Underwood and two deputies are accused by federal prosecutors of lying to the FBI and violating the Simpsons’ civil rights. Underwood also set in motion an illegal plan to confiscate the phone and video, then arrest both Simpson and his mother, according to federal court documents.

Underwood and deputies made up phony police reports to justify the seizure of the phone and video, federal prosecutors say.

The deputies could face decades in prison if convicted. The criminal charges in federal court against Underwood and the two other deputies remain pending.

Underwood and the deputies, through their lawyers, have denied all of the allegations. All have pleaded not guilty in federal criminal court.

Five lawsuits have been filed against the sheriff’s office in Chester in the past month.

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Andrew Dys covers breaking news and public safety for The Herald, where he has been a reporter and columnist since 2000. He has won 51 South Carolina Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, race, justice, and people. He is author of the book “Slice of Dys” and his work is in the U.S. Library of Congress.