Florence County, South Carolina sheriff Kenney Boone slammed the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) during an exclusive interview on Tuesday, saying his agency did not need its help during a massive shootout last fall that left two law enforcement officers dead.
In addition to confirming his refusal to accept help from the agency’s special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team, Boone also ripped SLED as being incapable of handling crime scenes.
“SLED had called and (I) talked with the chief. Talked to the assistant chief. Both of which obviously offered SWAT team assistance,” Boone told reporter Tonya Brown of WPDE TV 15 (ABC – Florence/ Myrtle Beach, S.C.). “You know, I explained to both of them then, it’s not that we don’t want you, we don’t need you.”
“The reason is, this thing’s gonna be over in ten minutes,” Boone continued. “We were gonna eliminate this threat one way or another.”
Boone’s decision to refuse SLED’s assistance during the incident – as well as his subsequent refusal to allow the agency to handle the investigation into the officer-involved shooting – drew extensive criticism.
This news outlet, in particular, slammed Boone for allowing his personal grudge with the agency to interfere with public safety as well as a transparent investigation of the shooting.
We are not alone in that criticism, either, as the incident in question has prompted statewide legislation drafted by senator Gerald Malloy of Hartsville, S.C. – legislation which is supported by the widow of one of the slain officers.
Boone’s beef with SLED began last summer when the 52-year-old sheriff – who recently married his on-again, off-again girlfriend Anna Hovey Boone – claimed to have received death threats from his new wife’s ex-husband, Alex Curlington.
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Curlington is married to a SLED agent, Genia Curlington, and Boone was livid at the agency for not firing her – and not immediately arresting her husband – in the aftermath of these alleged threats.
SLED was actually in the process of investigating the allegations when Boone called in deputies with the Richland County sheriff’s department to take their place. At that point, SLED stood down.
Not long after news of that drama broke, this news outlet reported exclusively on threats made by Boone against county finance director Kevin Yokim.
“If I don’t get a call back I’m gonna send a deputy around your house or wherever you are to find your ass,” Bonne barked at Yokim in one of the voicemail messages we obtained. “Call me now!”
After calling Yokim a “nerdy, unintelligent bastard,” Boone then told the finance director “you ain’t seen hell yet.”
“I tell you what, you come to me (unintelligible) cause I’m gonna beat the -” Boone thundered. “Hell’s coming with me.”
The office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson announced it was declining to press charges against Boone, who was allegedly upset at Yokim for questioning him over what appears to have been an attempt by Boone to vacation with his family on the taxpayer dime.
Boone’s response to the situation? Threatening those who criticized him …
“I assure you, and God is my witness, I will return the favor ten fold!!!” the recently baptized Boone wrote on his Facebook page.
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Despite the criticism, Boone maintains he was correct to rebuke SLED and summon Richland County sheriff Leon Lott to the scene of the fatal shooting – even though he had previously hand-picked Lott to investigate his domestic drama. Specifically, Boone slammed SLED as being “not capable” of handling the crime scene due to alleged attrition and inexperience on the part of its agents.
“I knew it was going to take something, especially a scene of this magnitude,” Boone told Brown. “And I knew that SLED’s not capable of handling scenes like this. You know they’ve lost a lot of officers who are experienced. They rely on a lot of officers that are fresh out of college. And because of what I thought was best, I wanted the very best to take care of the victims in this case, as well as our officers and constituents, and in particular the people who live in this neighborhood.”
We reached out to SLED for a response to Boone’s allegations, but did not immediately receive a response.
Within hours of inheriting the crime scene from Boone, Lott was already requesting assistance from federal investigators and other local authorities – but not SLED.
Of interest? Lott is the only other sheriff in South Carolina who refuses to allow SLED to investigate shootings involving his deputies. In fact, Lott was reportedly the driving force behind opposition to Malloy’s legislation empowering the statewide agency to probe these shootings.
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