Letter: Sheriff Scandal Shows Need For “Citizen’s Arrest”

Dear Editor: We cannot live in this great free country we call America without law and order.  It is what makes our freedoms secure and subsequently our lives happier. All of our laws have been made and designed to be carried out with an abundance of thought and context to…

Dear Editor: We cannot live in this great free country we call America without law and order.  It is what makes our freedoms secure and subsequently our lives happier.

All of our laws have been made and designed to be carried out with an abundance of thought and context to real life happenings.  Therefore, we should accept and respect them as we have made them.  Since medieval times, ordinary citizens have had a right to keep sanity and peace when they have seen a law be encroached upon.  For an example, the sheriffs in medieval England would encourage residents to hold suspected criminals in custody until the proper authorities arrived.

This perhaps was the creation of the citizen’s arrest.  As citizens, we already play an integral part in our legal system by being jurors – empowered to set people free or put them behind bars.  We also play an important part in our legal system when we provide testimony as witnesses of incidents or witnesses of character.

More significantly, we put our chosen public servants in office and have the right to change some legalities by ballot.  Thus, whether we all realize it or not we have some expressed and implied power for keeping our democracy the way we have agreed for it to be.

More specifically the sheriff of any South Carolina county could be put under citizen’s arrest for allegedly committing a felony – or in other circumstances.  In this particular circumstance, the sheriff of Berkeley County may have easily been presumed to have committed a serious offense since there was bodily injury to the victim and since a good-natured citizen may have not known the extent of what happened.

That would have given the citizen a valid reason to ask the sheriff to wait until the proper authorities arrived.

This incident with sheriff Wayne Dewitt could have happened in a small town or unincorporated community where the immediacy of the matter could not be addressed in a fair amount of time.  So, a citizen might have been needed to help in that case – or a case in which an officer had a medical emergency and could not apprehend a suspect and the citizen had knowledge of what transpired.

Above all we should recognize that we all have a stake in the system always and should participate wisely to ensure we make it the best system for all.


Jordan Cooper
Summerville, S.C.


sic speaking

Jordan, Thanks for your letter! I agree …


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The Colonel December 31, 2014 at 10:12 am Reply
Tazmaniac December 31, 2014 at 10:37 am

Yeah, it would be about the same level of effectiveness. Nothing like trying to arrest a drunk who is armed and has a lot to lose if apprehended.

shifty henry December 31, 2014 at 4:17 pm

(Good Citizen) — Excuse me, sir, but you appear to be either very sick or unbelievably drunk. I believe you should be taken either to the emergency room or the jail. I’m making a citizen’s arrest for the safety of other folks because you should not be behind the wheel. I’m going to take you to ……

(Arrestee Citizen) — No, man, I don’t think I’m sick — just probably the most drunk I’ve ever been in my life. Take me tothe jail, please.

(Good Citizen) — OK, sir, here we are. I see an officer coming over to get you. Now, you take care and I hope you are better tomorrow.

(Arrestee Citizen) — Thank you, so very much. I’m really, really sorry about the vomit on your dash and windows. I’ll pay for the dry cleaning on your tuxedo. The piss on your leather seats will dry out and you’ll never know it happened.

Flip Coscoe December 31, 2014 at 10:24 am

Democrats and liberals by ‘nature’ are criminals however i have no interest in arresting my socialist friends.

Ordained by Lucifer to be a walking poster child for Satan, is punishment enough. :-)

Flip Coscoe December 31, 2014 at 10:29 am

What would be the punishment for false allegations of criminality by the ‘citizen’? It happens everyday-public servants being accused of high crimes and misdemeanors.

There has to be a penalty for falsely accusing your neighbor of a crime? Stoning? Water boarding? Loss of personal property?

I am all for it if the accuser is held just as accountable.

Flip Side December 31, 2014 at 11:29 am

SECTION 17-13-10. Circumstances when any person may arrest a felon or thief.

Upon (a) view of a felony committed, (b) certain information that a felony has been committed or (c) view of a larceny committed, any person may arrest the felon or thief and take him to a judge or magistrate, to be dealt with according to law.

shifty henry December 31, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Was it the “Night Stalker” who found himself in a Mexican neighborhood by mistake and received a “citizens arrest”? The photos that I remember appeared to show that he really didn’t want to go with them. Although I think the Mexicans were disappointed that he surrendered too quickly.

shifty henry January 2, 2015 at 10:08 am

Thanks, that looks like an interesting site…..

Buz Martin December 31, 2014 at 12:23 pm

What about being accountable, yourself, for your own thoughts expressed publicly as words. What a concept, huh?

Be a man, “Flip.” Own up to your real name, your true identity. Stop hiding behind “pogo”, “Sandi Morals”, “The Boomerang Family” and hundreds of other fake personas. Then maybe you will have at least earned a modicum of respect for having put a face and name to your bullshit.

Flip Coscoe December 31, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Unlike you I have never wished anyone harm or accused others of crimes.

Difference between you and me is I like to blog for the political banter and you blog to destroy others with your wild and false allegations.

Other than that and the fact you have never been on the winning side of an election I believe you to be a smart and likeable soul. :-)

Buz Martin December 31, 2014 at 2:37 pm

I supported and in some cases actively campaigned for: Republican Tracy Edge for SC State Rep (always, though he did lose the last time), Republican Mike Lowder in his successful bid for MB City Council in 2009, Republican Randal Wallace in his successful bid for MB City Council in 2013, Republican Mark Lazarus in his successful bid for Chair of Horry County Council in 2013, plus Al Allen and James Frazier in their successful bids for Horry County Council re-election in 2013. Plus successful school board candidates, and successful candidates for Chair of the Horry County Republican Party.

Shows what you know.

Flip Coscoe The Sociopath December 31, 2014 at 7:50 pm

and you left out the fact that YOU hate Jesus and that you masturbate to photos and videos of Obama.

Lindsey Michelle January 1, 2015 at 3:34 pm

I took a course in criminal law during my undergrad curriculum, taught by an adjunct who was a criminal defense attorney. She was VERY adamant that people should not attempt a citizen’s arrest. If the charges you make are valid, you have dodged a bullet. However, if your charges do not stick, you can be charged with kidnapping. For those uninitiated, a conviction for kidnapping carries a mandatory prison term on the stiff side, for which you are NOT eligible for parole. No matter how much you think you are in the right, it is not worth the risk of very significant criminal and possibly civil penalties.

Been There, Done That January 2, 2015 at 8:22 am

There is no mandatory prison term for Kidnapping in South Carolina. It carries up to 30 years (and is a no parole offense), but there is no minimum. When you endeavor to initiate the uninitiated, you should probably do the research to make sure you are correct.

SECTION 16-3-910. Kidnapping. [SC ST SEC 16-3-910]

shall unlawfully seize, confine, inveigle, decoy, kidnap, abduct or
carry away any other person by any means whatsoever without authority of
law, except when a minor is seized or taken by his parent, is guilty of
a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned for a period not to
exceed thirty years unless sentenced for murder as provided in Section

Buford Pusser He's Not December 31, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Was DeWitt the Berkley Sheriff who issued decrees forbidding his deputies to date divorced/seperated people on their own time to pander to the churchies, much as Hollywood Jim in Kershaw County has done? Did DeWitt also forbid them to possess or consume alcohol in.their own homes? Many of these clowns who become Sheriff are so enamored with their power that they really believe it is okay for them to make these decrees.

Hollywood Jim lost my respect entirely when he decreed that his deputies can only sleep with someone they are married to, even though he an his wife were saif to be doing so while married to other people.

We really need term limits of no more than 12 years in office for these power-bloated clowns.

Lindsey Michelle January 1, 2015 at 3:25 pm

If I am not mistaken, I believe you are referring to Ray Nash, the former sheriff in Dorchester County. I do know that he had a Bible-based character training (of his own design!) that was mandatory for his deputies, and he also made it departmental policy that his deputies could not co-habitate or else have a roommate of the opposite sex. P&C in Charleston did a piece on his successor, LC Knight, and all the wholesale changes he made when he started in 2009.

Buford Pusser He's Not January 2, 2015 at 9:11 pm

You’re right, it was Nash who was so much into the “holier than thou” thing. To bad it wasn’t him, as so often happens with these hypocrites.

Lindsey Michelle January 4, 2015 at 1:09 am

Maybe so. Has anyone gotten an update on him since his term expired?

Fantasy Island December 31, 2014 at 3:08 pm

“All of our laws have been made and designed to be carried out with an abundance of thought and context to real life happenings.”


James Fleming Jr December 31, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Citizens are the answer but they are the ones that keep electing these folks. Watch these citizens on TV and see how informed they really are. As long as things go well for a person he or she will fall in line. that is why each public official has his or here leaders in every community. The only answer may be term limits unless we all wait until crime affects us directly and personally. Remember a few years back when a Magistrate would not even issue a warrant for a Sheriff over CDA.
As a retired Police Officer I have seen both sides of the coin and I really do not have the answer other than folks being knowledgeable and willing to stand but that will never happen in America because the corruption starts at the top and works it’s way down in most cases. Power corrupts and that is a fact I saw it all through my career.and if you are not on the inside they will feed you to the dogs and as a matter of fact will hang you over nothing and lies.
This thing with Sheriff Metts will only go so far because I am told when it hits a certain Democrat they will stop it and by the way unfortunately there appears to be no difference in Democrats and Republicans,especially in South Carolina.

nitrat January 1, 2015 at 9:56 am

Re: your last paragraph, that may be an advantage of a Democrat appointed US Attorney doing a parallel investigation with a SCGOP AG.

That lessens the chance that the investigation will allowed to be stopped before it comes to its natural conclusion…like what happened with SCGOP treasurer Thomas Ravenel, GOP appointed US Attorney who quit before the end of the case to take a job provided by the SCGOP governor. Then, when the case gets to the sentencing judge, he is literally dumbfounded with the US Attorney office getting NO information from Ravenel and calling it ‘cooperation’.

I would be willing to bet that if Ravenel had had to really turn for a Democrat US Attorney’s office, we would not be seeing the investigation of campaign fund shenanigans that we are seeing today because those same GOPers would have gone down for snorting coke at Ravenel’s parties. We could have been rid of some of these people in 2009.

“Citizens are the answer but they are the ones that keep electing these folks.”
Right now, across this country, we have a system where we elect county sheriffs and circuit prosecutors.

shifty henry December 31, 2014 at 9:06 pm

I was recently riding with a friend of mine.

We were coming to a red light, and he shoots right through it. I ask him,
“Why’d you do that?” He tells me this is how his brother drives.

We come to another red light, and again, he shoots right through it. I ask him, “Why’d you do that?” Again, he tells me this is how his brother

We come to a green light, and he slams on the brakes. My heart nearly goes into my throat. I shouted at him, “Why do you do that?!”

He replied, “You never know, my brother could be coming the other

shifty henry December 31, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Your great grand-dad may have laffed at these—–

A deputy sheriff was sent out take an inventory of the property in a house. When he did not return for three hours, the sheriff went after him, and found him asleep on a lounge in the living room of the house. He had made a brave effort with his inventory, however, he had written down, “living room – 1 table, 1 sideboard, 1 full bottle of whiskey”. Then the “full” had been crossed out, and “half full” substituted. Then this was over lined, and “empty” put in its place. At the bottom of the page, in wobbly writing, was written – “1 revolving carpet.”


When the Kentucky colonel was in the North, someone asked him if the Kentuckians were in fact very bibulous. “No, suh,” the colonel declared. I don’t reckon they’re mo’ than a dozen Bibles in the whole state.”

nitrat January 1, 2015 at 9:31 am

Jordan, I’m not picking up on something. What’s your point?
Do we need a new citizen’s arrest law?
Did a citizen try to arrest DeWittless before the highway patrol got there and he submitted or resisted? Should a citizen have tried?

From what I’ve read of this (and, I haven’t seen a really good after the fact putting all the facts together story on this case; like something John Monk could do if it happened inn Columbia) this is yet another example of an old law (re: coroners being the only ones who can arrest a sheriff) being superseded by the law pertaining to the Highway Patrol and no one ever changing the coroner part; just keep piling on and being oblivious to what’s there.
Instead of wasting time passing ALEC template laws that pertain to national, not SC, matters, our dimwit legislators would earn their money by establishing a group to go through and re-vamp the SC Codes to make it accessible by SC judges and SC citizens and take out all the contradictory crap that has been piled in forever.

Jordan Cooper January 2, 2015 at 1:51 am

Thanks for your question nitrat. I was saying that citizens do have legal authority to arrest pursuant to S.C. law if they think a felony was committed or under other circumstances. If hypothetically Dewitt left the scene of an accident with injuries a bystander may not know if it was a felony or misdemeanor before the victim was looked at. So, a citizen could have reasonably asked the sheriff to remain in place until the right authorities came. Vestiges of the old law still remain if the sheriff is suspended and another is not immediately appointed by the governor, the coroner will serve as sheriff. Yet the coroner is more of a legal notifier of the court for an accused sheriff than a police officer until that event happens. DPS and SLED do have statewide investigative powers now so it would eliminate some of the conflict of interests that a city or county officer would have in investigating the sheriff. However, it doesn’t mean that a citizen or any other sworn police officer could arrest him. The good things about citizen’s arrest is that it keeps society from lawlessness and there is a capacity for a continued discussion about what is the right thing to do for the citizenry. Hope this makes more sense to you.

mrbraindead12 . January 3, 2015 at 2:38 am

If “All of our laws have been made and designed to be carried out with an abundance of thought and context to real life happenings.” then why the hell are we supporting Citizens United, money in politics, and the overall downfall of the USA? Why isn’t supporting the Wolf Pac by Cenk Uyger? Why the hell haven’t we had state congressional meetings for us, by us, and about us? Money in politics has far too long polluted the infrastructure of not only state, but national government. I believe that government, and everything in-between that uses religion as a means for controlling us is a sham. Why the hell aren’t we getting religion out of politics, and money out of politics? It mucks things up when we have the two hand-in-hand and it upsets the hell out of me. There’s so much bullshit I feel like if we as a people had the balls we’d all stand up, united, and fuck the koch brothers like they’ve fucked us, and bought politics like a cheap whore [Taylor] (who is a shill for the establishment, and not a true republican btw.) That’s not the point though, she isn’t paid the vocalize her opinions, she’s only brainwashed to. It’s up to us to stand up to authoritativeness, and corruption. It’s up to us to rationalize and dictate our feelings/ And, lastly, it’s up to us to figure out that money making love to establishment and NOT the cold hard truths are what is tearing us apart LISA!

9" January 3, 2015 at 9:42 am

Keep dreaming.About 50% of law enforcement is corrupt,on the take,etc,and when they get a hold of you,you are theirs.

Another Deceived Voter January 3, 2015 at 10:11 pm

Drunk or not, he assaulted a motorist and then fled. Regardless of the extent of the victims injuries (dead or scratched), that perp took flight to deceive us all.

Is a fleeing assailant moral? Or just? …Or is he a scoundrel attempting to hide his crime? If the latter, is an elected official in this situation as perp betraying his electorate?


Down with this countys’ tyrannical abuse of our laws for their personal benefit!

InTheKnow January 4, 2015 at 9:49 am

Jordan, the law you want is already on the books but never used.
This section is taken straight from the statute.
SECTION 17-13-20. Additional circumstances when citizens may arrest; means to be used.

A citizen may arrest a person in the nighttime by efficient means as the darkness and the probability of escape render necessary, even if the life of the person should be taken, when the person:

(a) has committed a felony;

(b) has entered a dwelling house without express or implied permission;

(c) has broken or is breaking into an outhouse with a view to plunder;

(d) has in his possession stolen property; or

(e) being under circumstances which raise just suspicion of his design to steal or to commit some felony, flees when he is hailed.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 17-252; 1952 Code Section 17-252; 1942 Code Section 908; 1932 Code Section 908; Cr. P. ’22 Section 2; Cr. C. ’12 Section 2; Cr. C. ’02 Section 2; G. S. 2617; R. S. 2; 1866 (13) 406; 1995 Act No. 53, Section 1.

FastEddy23 January 4, 2015 at 1:54 pm

This ties into the attempt by judges, prosecution and defense that put arbitrary limits on claims and hearings for “Malicious Intent” and “Malicious Prosecution”, in which judges may set aside these issues when their power in court is seemingly challenged.

One thing that many jurisdictions may allow in the case of government employees and elected or appointed “officials” that “Maliciously” use codes, laws and rules to disparage or degrade Citizen’s property rights or Citizen’s civil rights. (As may be the case with the Sheriff, here.)

(In some states and jurisdictions lawyers may be charged for acting “Maliciously” and the state’s bar(s) keep track of these charges, too many charges and that lawyer may lose his ticket to practice.)


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