Once again, a South Carolina sheriff has been indicted for crimes allegedly committed in office. This time, Marlboro County, S.C. sheriff Charles Lemon is the law enforcement leader who has found himself in hot water.
According to a news release from the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson, Lemon and a former deputy were indicted by a Marlboro County grand jury this week. Both Lemon and deputy David Andrew Cook were charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature and misconduct in office.
According to a probable cause affidavit accompanying the warrants for Lemon’s arrest, “on or about” May 3, 2020 he “willfully and unlawfully commit misconduct in office” by ordering an “unlawful assault and battery upon a defendant by use of a taser in such a way that could have caused great bodily injury or death.”
The incident – which was reportedly captured on video – has been described by multiple sources who have seen it as “horrific.” This video has yet to be released publicly.
On the assault and battery charge, Lemon is accused of ordering Cook to “deploy his taser on the victim and continue activating the taster at least two times in addition to the original drive stun and deployment of the taser prongs used to control the victim.”
The incident occurred at the Marlboro County detention center. According to the release from the attorney general, the victim in the case is Jarrell Lee Johnson.
Of interest? Just prior to the release of the indictments by Wilson’s office, Tonya Brown of WPDE TV-15 (ABC – Florence/ Myrtle Beach, S.C.) reported that three of Lemon’s investigators had resigned their offices.
“Everything is fine,” Lemon told Brown.
Apparently not …
Assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature is a felony with a penalty of up to twenty years in prison, according to the S.C. Code of Laws (§ 16-3-600) . Common law misconduct in office is a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to ten years in prison. Both Lemon’s and Cook’s cases will be handled by Wilson’s office.
As with anyone accused of committing any crime, Lemon and Cook are considered innocent until proven guilty by our criminal justice system – or until such time as they may wish to enter some form of allocution in connection with a plea agreement with prosecutors related to any of the charges that may be filed against them.
By statute, however, Lemon is automatically suspended from office pending the outcome of the charges filed against him. An announcement of his suspension is likely to be made by the office of governor Henry McMaster later today.
Scandals involving sheriffs in South Carolina are obviously nothing new to our regular readers …
Over the last five years, this news outlet has extensively reported on the misdeeds of sheriffs in Chester, Chesterfield, Colleton, Florence, Greenville, Jasper and Laurens counties. FITSNews has also called on tougher penalties for law enforcement leaders who violate the public trust.
THE INDICTMENTS …
(Via: S.C. Attorney General’s Office)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that New York Knights’ lid from ‘The Natural’ pictured above).
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