Did anyone think to call the deputy?
Sit down. Grab a nice cup of coffee, tea, or whatever your beverage of choice is, and humor me for a minute by reading this story. (Though I have linked to it, the paper in question has a habit of making things go away, so I am reprinting it here because the entire story is the unit of criticism.)
The S.C. State Law Enforcement Division and the FBI are investigating the beating of an inmate at the Kershaw County Detention Center, which resulted in the firing of one sheriff's deputy.Do you notice anything missing?
The inmate, Charles Edwin Shelley, 38, was struck several times Thursday around his shins by Sgt. Oddie Tribble Jr., said Capt. David Thomley of the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Department. Tribble, a 12-year veteran of the force, was fired Friday, Thomley said.
Tribble hit the inmate at least 25 times with a baton, according to a video of the beating released by SLED through a Freedom of Information request. The video footage is from two security cameras outside a carport where officers drop off inmates to be booked at the detention center.
Shelley remained in the Kershaw County Detention Center on Monday on charges of driving on a suspended license and giving false information to a police officer, Thomley said. He suffered a leg fracture, cuts and bruises, said SLED Chief Reggie Lloyd.
The Kershaw County jail incident is one of three recent reports of law enforcement officers assaulting inmates in South Carolina. SLED and the FBI are investigating all three cases for possible civil rights violations, according to a statement released Monday by SLED.
The other two cases are:
The July arrest of two S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice correctional officers who were fired for allegedly assaulting a juvenile
The July arrest of a Sumter Police Department officer who allegedly assaulted a suspect during a traffic stop. That officer also has been fired.
Lloyd said the cases are being investigated as possible civil rights violations because it gives law enforcement a wider reach. “We take a look at the whole issue of who was present, who should have intervened,” he said.
In the Kershaw County incident, at least one other sheriff’s deputy was present during the beating. And the beating happened near a large window where two or three correctional offices are standing inside the jail. The Kershaw County jail is operated separately from the sheriff’s department, Lloyd said.
Kershaw County Sheriff Steve McCaskill contacted SLED to investigate as soon as he learned of the incident, Thomley said.
In the Kershaw detention center video, Shelley arrived at the jail at 8:29 p.m. with nine other prisoners in a white police van. Two officers escort a handcuffed woman out of the van and then bring out Shelley, who also has his hands cuffed behind his back.
Shortly after that, Tribble begins hitting Shelley with his police baton. All of the strikes were below Shelley’s knees.
After 22 hits, Shelley falls and Tribble strikes him three more times while the inmate is lying on the ground. The final blows happen after Tribble lifts the inmate back on his feet and walks him to a different area of the carport.
After the incident ends, the officers unload the remaining prisoners and take them inside the jail.
However, the jail employees would not accept Shelley because of his injuries. The two deputies them drove him to the hospital in the van, Lloyd said.
Whatever happened to the basic idea that in journalism we at least try to get ALL sides - and that means making an attempt to contact the deputy? I don't see any attempt to contact Tribble here - or even an acknowledgment that the reporter and editors thought about it and maybe could not locate a name or address. Or that they thought to ask others if Tribble had told them why he did it?
Second-day story, same thing. The paper even goes out of its way to say it could not get hold of two other people. But any attempt to contact Tribble is MIA.
State and federal law enforcement agencies are investigating the actions of a second Kershaw County sheriff’s deputy and several correctional officers at the county detention center who last week witnessed an inmate being beaten.
State Law Enforcement Division Chief Reggie Lloyd said the second deputy, who has not been named, has been interviewed. It was unclear Tuesday whether that deputy remains on the force.
“Anytime you have someone in custody of police or a prison system you have a duty to protect them,” Lloyd said. “I don’t want to comment on what he should or shouldn’t have done, but that conduct will be looked at also.”
Kershaw County Sheriff Steve McCaskill on Friday fired Sgt. Oddie Tribble, a 12-year department veteran who was captured on video as he beat a man in handcuffs with a baton. The second deputy in the video stands nearby and appears to twice push the inmate back onto a curb as the inmate tries to avoid blows from the police baton.
Several correctional officers at the jail can be seen in the video as they stand behind a large glass window at the detention center’s intake desk. The video did not include an audio recording, but it does not appear anyone tried to intervene.
Attempts to reach McCaskill and Peggy Spivey, director of the county-run jail, were unsuccessful.
The FBI, the U.S. attorney for South Carolina and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice also are part of the investigation. That approach allows Lloyd and the federal agencies to investigate the roles of other law enforcement officers who were on the scene.
On Monday, SLED released video footage of the beating, which was filmed on two security cameras installed in a carport where suspects enter the detention center.
In the video, Tribble strikes Charles Edwin Shelley more than 25 times with a police baton. All of the blows were around Shelley’s shins and calves. He suffered a leg facture and cuts that required stitches, Lloyd said.
Shelley, 38, had been arrested during a highway traffic check and charged with driving with a suspended license and providing false information, police have said. He was one of 10 people being transported to the jail in a police van. During the ride, Shelley had argued with the deputy, Lloyd said.
Lloyd, who has watched the video, described it as “disturbing.”
“Without speaking to this case, you probably should never be hitting anyone with a baton when they’re handcuffed,” Lloyd said.
The case is one of three recent incidents under investigation in which S.C. law enforcement officers have been accused of assaulting someone in their custody. Lloyd said it his agency’s policy to investigate such cases as possible civil rights violations and to include federal authorities.
“We don’t think this is typical behavior in South Carolina, but we think it’s disturbing behavior,” Lloyd said.
Back to Journalism 101.