Crime & Courts

Lowcountry Assistant Police Chief Resigns Amid SLED Investigation

Separation documents indicate Edwards “resigned while under internal investigation …”

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As an investigation into former leaders of the Hampton County, South Carolina sheriff’s office ramps up, one of the law enforcement agency’s top cops has left his new job voluntarily. Justin Edwards, 43, of Brunson, S.C., is a former Hampton County sergeant who spent more than two decades with the department.

After leaving the agency in 2022, Edwards became assistant chief of the Estill, S.C. police department.

Last week, our media outlet exclusively reported that a search associated with Edwards had resulted in multiple items being seized as part of an ongoing investigation by the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Those seizures included unspecified equipment.

Separation documents filed last Thursday (April 25, 2024) indicated Edwards “resigned while under internal investigation.”  The paperwork further noted he “resigned while under SLED investigation for actions unrelated to (the) Estill police department”.

The routine separation filed the following day – April 26, 2024 – referenced a pending criminal investigation into Edwards but made clear no criminal charges had been filed.

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As we reported last week, SLED’s investigation is focused on equipment that went missing from the department under the administration of former sheriff T.C. Smalls, who served four terms in office from 2006 to 2022.

The investigation was prompted by a letter from Smalls’ successor in office – Hampton County sheriff Anthony Russell. Shortly after taking office, Russell asked SLED to conduct a “forensic audit” of missing equipment after a review of purchase order invoices failed to align with inventory.

While the investigation into the missing equipment unfolds, parallel probes are underway – adding layers to the county’s turmoil. Former county administrator Rose Dobson-Elliott is currently under SLED investigation over allegations involving fraud and breach of trust. Additionally, the S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR) is delving into the county’s decade-long failure to furnish quarterly reports on the utilization of sales tax for capital projects.

FITSNews has submitted FOIA requests in an attempt to dig deeper into the situations impacting the county’s finances and will provide updates as they become available.

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THE FILE …

(SCCJA)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Callie Lyons (provided)

Callie Lyons is a journalist, researcher and author. Her 2007 book ‘Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal’ was the first to cover forever chemicals and their impact on communities – a story later told in the movie ‘Dark Waters’. Her investigative work has been featured in media outlets, publications, and documentaries all over the world. Lyons also appears in ‘Citizen Sleuth’ – a 2023 documentary exploring the genre of true crime.

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1 comment

Sheriff Buford T. Justice Top fan April 30, 2024 at 8:58 am

Watch out cause the s… is about to hit the fan!

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