More trouble for the South Carolina Highway Patrol after more videotapes were released which show officers behaving badly.
3 weeks ago, Governor Mark Sanford accepted the resignations of both the public safety director James Schweitzer and the Highway Patrol commander Russell Roark.
This, after he viewed tapes, including one from 2004, showing a trooper using a racial slur and threatening to kill a man during a foot chase.
Civic leaders and some lawmakers now want an investigation into the patrol. Those same leaders brought videos showing a patrolman ramming a man running down a side street, and flipping him into a ditch. The trooper later brags he was trying to hit the man.
When asked on the tape you can hear the trooper say, "Yeah, I was trying to hit him. I hit the **** out of him."
"You have to understand the arrogance of these troopers who know they're being recorded," says Rep. Hart. "To still do this type of activity and say look we don't care, we'll do whatever we want to do."
"He needs to be arrested," says Rep. Christopher Hart of Richland County. "He needs to be charged, he needs to be brought before the law and prosecuted for that."
State representative Hart calls the tape "despicable," adding he believes most law enforcement officers follow the letter of the law while the actions of a few "bad apples" give the entire patrol a bad name.
South Carolina NAACP President Lonnie Randolph adds, "A lot of these things occur because it is allowed."
Dr. Randolph says the kind of the activity on the tapes represents a "culture" that has been allowed to develop. But, he points out the chance for change is here. In the next two weeks, Governor Mark Sanford is expected to name possible successors to public safety director James Schweitzer, who resigned three weeks ago. Lawmakers and civic leaders plan to put candidates under the microscope.
"It's our job to do what we do to ensure that all human beings are treated with the decency and respect they deserve," says Dr. Randolph.
Representative Hart adds, "The first thing is we need to get rid of the good ole' boy system. We really need someone completely from the outside who has no ties to any political person or any political director so they can come in and really do a thorough job and make sure we get rid of this."
In the two cases described, the troopers involved either received 2- or 3-day suspensions, or were sent to stress management or diversity classes.
A source tells there are more tapes out there that have not been released, possibly 40 of them. The issue extends beyond racial discrimination, those tapes show troopers treating people of all races with a "wild west mentality."
That same source says there are plans in place to urge the Richland County Sheriff's Department and solicitor's office to re-open an investigation into the apartment complex chase and pursue charges against the trooper involved.
In: Arts and Entertainment
Tags: police, chase, pursuit, fleeing suspect, ditch, dash cam, caught, tape, playground, sc highway patrol
Location: Columbia, South Carolina, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved, featured
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