A former Charleston County South Carolina sheriff’s deputy has been criminally charged in connection with a traffic pursuit that ended with him allegedly assaulting and hurling racial epithets at a suspect.
All of this was allegedly captured on the deputy’s body-worn camera, too … a public record which will eventually have to be released.
Former deputy James H. Carter III was terminated from his position with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) two weeks ago. According to his letter of termination, Carter engaged in “egregious conduct” in connection with an October 21, 2023 pursuit in the Hollywood region of Charleston County. This week, Carter was arrested for his alleged conduct by agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Specifically, he was charged with third degree assault and battery and misconduct in office.
Carter, 39, of Hollywood, S.C., was booked at the sheriff Al Cannon detention center in North Charleston.
Our media outlet submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to CCSO for the footage from the incident last Tuesday (November 21, 2023). As of this writing, we have received no response from the agency.
Sources familiar with the bodycam video say it is “shocking” and will “make national news.”
“There are some who are concerned when this video is released it could cause riots,” a source familiar with its contents told this media outlet.
The suspect in the October 21 vehicular chase was originally charged with resisting arrest, failure to stop for blue lights and reckless driving, among other alleged crimes. The suspect is black, and during the apprehension Carter – who is white – is alleged to have used several racial slurs while assaulting him.
According to multiple sources familiar with the contents of the video, Carter is observed delivering multiple “closed fist” blows to the head of the suspect while calling him the N-word – knocking him unconscious. After the suspect regained consciousness following this assault, Carter allegedly asked him how he liked his “nap.”
State representative Marvin Pendarvis is representing Carter’s alleged victim – the suspect in the October 21 incident. According to Pendarvis, the sheriff’s office owes it to the public to release the footage even though he acknowledged “there are some concerns with that.”
“We will be asking the sheriff’s office to immediately release the video,” Pendarvis said. “The public deserves to see what happened.”
Pendarvis said he was also “interested in knowing what kind of environment” would have led Carter to believe such conduct “was appropriate in the first place.”
Those are good questions …
(Click to view)
Charleston sheriff Kristin Graziano asked SLED to investigate Carter on November 8, 2023 – a little more than a week before he was terminated and nearly three weeks after the incident took place.
What took so long for the investigation request to be made?
According to reporters Thomas Gruel and Blair Sabol of WCSC TV-5 (CBS – Charleston, S.C.), the footage of the arrest was not immediately provided to command staff – a process which prompted a separate internal investigation at the sheriff’s office.
“The deputy should have been fired immediately,” a source familiar with the footage said.
As with anyone accused of committing any crime, Carter is considered innocent until proven guilty by our criminal justice system – or until such time as he may wish to enter some form of allocution in connection with a plea agreement with prosecutors related to any of the charges filed against him.
Obviously, that disclaimer applies to all cases – including those involving video evidence. If this bodycam footage is as bad as we have been told, the question of guilt or innocence is likely to be addressed fairly quickly.
The bigger question: What will happen when the video is released?
SLED has just released its arrest warrants and probable cause affidavits related to these charges.
According to the probable cause affidavit accompanying the warrants for Carter’s arrest, the suspect was “in a kneeling position … with both hands down by his sides” when Carter struck him in the facial area “knocking him unconscious momentarily.”
“(Carter) then placed his hands around the neck area of (the suspect) and moved his body to the ground,” the affidavit continued. “After handcuffing (the suspect) while walking to the patrol vehicle (Carter) said to (him), ‘enjoy that little nap?’ acknowledging that (he) lost consciousness while he was being struck.”
Take a look …
THE WARRANTS …
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.
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