Attorney for ex-North Charleston officer: Tweets contributed to self-inflicted shooting
The attorney for a former North Charleston police sergeant who shot himself while on duty last summer said Thursday that the episode was partially brought on by the 22,000 posts his former mistress made on Twitter.
Charles “Eddie” Bullard, 46, appeared before a Family Court judge to ask for a reduction in the child-support payments he owes to the woman, who gave birth to his son.
Bullard was fired from the North Charleston Police Department after the agency’s chief said he shot his own protective vest July 4, then reported that someone else had attacked him.
Bullard’s attorney, Emily Ayers of Charleston, asked that a judge sign an order preventing 24-year-old Megan Clark-Davis from further Internet missives deriding Bullard as a “dead-beat father.” The posts, Ayers said, are damaging the former couple’s 2-year-old son.
“The (shooting) was brought on by stressors from his family and stressors from ... the information she’s putting out on the Internet,” Ayers told Judge Harry Phillips. “She simply has to stop the animosity that has been created by the situation.”
The judge agreed that Clark-Davis should stop such postings on Twitter and Facebook that the child could later find.
He denied the attorney’s attempt to seal the child-support case and to ban a Post and Courier reporter from the courtroom.
Phillips also agreed to lower Bullard’s monthly child-support payments to Clark-Davis, acknowledging that he has child-support obligations to other mothers as well.
Bullard and his attorney declined to comment after the hearing.
Agents from the State Law Enforcement Division are still investigating Bullard’s self-inflicted gunshot wound and whether any charges should be filed.
SLED spokesman Thom Berry said Thursday that the agency had “no new information” to share about the nearly 4-month-old case.
The 15-year veteran of the city’s police force was on patrol early on Independence Day when he radioed to dispatchers that he had been shot by a man who emerged from the dark and wrestled with him behind a Rivers Avenue carpet store.
His sidearm went off during a struggle for the weapon, he told investigators at the time, and a bullet struck the abdominal portion of his vest.
In the days after Bullard’s firing, Clark-Davis sent a barrage of tweets and posted on news websites about the man she met at a Chick-fil-A restaurant. Their relationship had been troubled for months, and their woes included battles over child-support payments.
The publicity cited during Thursday’s court hearing included a Post and Courier interview with Clark-Davis that was featured in a story about the racial implications of the false report — that the supposed assailant was a black man.
His attorney said Clark-Davis’ actions created an “aura” that negatively affected their toddler son. By Thursday afternoon, Clark-Davis had distributed more than 22,600 tweets. Among her 160 followers was the city of North Charleston’s official Twitter account.
Her Twitter page features short posts about her endeavors as a single mother and about her relationships with men, among other routine life experiences.
On various online platforms, Clark-Davis posed questions about whether Bullard was going to be arrested for overdue child-support payments. Bullard’s attorney mentioned one Twitter post in which Clark-Davis called her client a “piece of (expletive).”
She also wrote on Charleston Thug Life, a blog that focuses on the social-media lives of people arrested in the Lowcountry, that Bullard is a “bad father to ALL of his biological kids.”
Clark-Davis said she posted little about Bullard until after the shooting, and she shouldn’t be blamed for the incident. Statements by Ayers that Clark-Davis routinely sends “thousands of daily updates” about Bullard being a dead-beat father were exaggerated, Clark-Davis said.
“He chose to shoot himself,” she said during a brief interview before the court hearing. “I have the right to tweet under the First Amendment.”
The judge ruled that Clark-Davis was free to write about problems with “men in general,” but that future disparaging comments toward Bullard were off-limits as their case works its way through the legal system.