A man is suing the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office and two deputies who allegedly assaulted him and wrongfully accused him of possessing drugs during a routine traffic stop, according to a recent lawsuit.
Last week, Deandre Lamar filed the personal injury lawsuit against the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO), and officers Sydney Phillips and Brian McCoy for the Jan. 3, 2019 traffic stop.
According to the lawsuit, Phillips pulled Lamar over at the intersection of Hughes Road and Dawning Lane for disregarding a stop sign and failing to use his turn signal.
The lawsuit said Lamar “calmly and respectfully” protested the officer’s accusations, saying that he saw the deputy behind him and came to a complete stop at the stop sign.
Lamar was on his cell phone with his father at the time he was being pulled over “because he was afraid of being assaulted by the police,” the lawsuit said.
Because he was on the phone, Lamar was “slow to respond” when he was asked to give Phillips his driver’s license, the lawsuit said. That’s when the situation escalated.
Phillips then called McCoy, another Charleston County sheriff’s deputy, for backup.
McCoy then “forcibly removed” Lamar from his vehicle, according to the lawsuit. Lamar “remained calm” while asking the officers why they were using force against him, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit said the officers screamed at Lamar and threatened to tase him if he didn’t comply.
“McCoy then punched (Lamar) in the face and used further excessive
force against (Lamar) as he begged McCoy to stop hitting him,” the lawsuit said.
Lamar was handcuffed and asked again for his drivers license, the lawsuit said. He then told them it was in his back pocket.
“Such a simple question was not attempted by the deputies before ripping (Lamar) from his vehicle by force and beating him after they alleged that he disregarded a stop sign,” the lawsuit said.
Phillips said she was a “green plant like substance” on Lamar’s center console. According to the lawsuit, the body cam footage did not show the substance.
The deputy then placed the substance in a clear bag, according to the lawsuit. When Lamar’s father arrived on scene, Phillips showed him the bag and told him the substance was illegal in South Carolina.
“Based on the body camera footage of Phillips holding the substance in the bag, the substance appears to be dirt,” the lawsuit said.
The supervising officer then arrived on scene. Lamar said in the lawsuit that Phillips “sounded disappointed as she indicated to the other deputies that the substance she claimed was marijuana was not enough to sustain a charge against (him),” the lawsuit said.
McCoy then commented that he wished he had his baton, according to the lawsuit.
The charges against Lamar were dropped. He didn’t have a criminal record at the time this event occurred.
The lawsuit blames the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) for its “inconsistent and undefined standards” in its noncompliance and physical force policies. It says CCSO did nothing to further investigate this incident and has an “unwritten policy to simply “look the other way.”
“This “looking the other way” by the “powers that be” within the CCSO fostered an environment where improper and unconstitutional conduct was condoned, tolerated and emboldened by policymaking authorities within the CCSO.
Lamar is suing the deputies for improper seizure, excessive force, and due process violations. He is defending CCSO for deliberate indifference and negligence.
Charleston attorney John Gentry is representing Lamar in the lawsuit.
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