State Law Enforcement Division agents on Tuesday arrested a former North Charleston police sergeant accused of staging his own shooting July 4.
Charles Edward Bullard Jr., 46, of Hollywood, is charged with misconduct in office and reporting false information to law enforcement, SLED spokesman Thom Berry said.
If convicted, he faces a maximum punishment of a year and 30 days behind bars and about $1,000 in fines. Bullard surrendered to SLED agents and went before Magistrate Linda Lombard, who released him on a $10,470 personal recognizance bond, Berry said.
The arrest resulted from an investigation conducted by SLED at the request of the North Charleston Police Department. The case will be prosecuted by the 9th Circuit Solicitors’ Office.
Arrest warrants state that Bullard shot himself in an attempt to commit suicide by firing into his protective vest. But police sources suspect he may have been looking to garner sympathy and, in turn, financial help.
Bullard’s wife said he is not commenting on the advice of his lawyer, Andy Savage.
Savage said he was assured that the matter would be handled as a medical issue.
“An arrest was never contemplated by those in law enforcement we were working with,” he said, adding that he hopes the decision will be reconsidered.
Bullard’s “case is best handled by health care specialists not lawyers,” Savage said.
North Charleston Police Chief Jon Zumalt on Tuesday stood behind his decision to fire Bullard and call in SLED after the department “discovered that he shot himself and misled all of us.”
“I felt that he was a continued threat to himself and sought mental health treatment for him,” Zumalt said.
Bullard’s Family Court attorney, Emily Ayers of Charleston, recently said the episode was partially brought on by the 22,000 posts his former mistress made on Twitter. Some of those tweets concerned his alleged neglect of parental responsibilities. The former couple have a son together now, too.
The 15-year veteran of North Charleston’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.
Zumalt has said investigators quickly realized that his story didn’t make sense. The chief announced Bullard’s firing two days later, when he said during a news conference that the sergeant concocted the story and had shot himself.