SLED investigates North Charleston police officers’ use of force in arrest
Two North Charleston patrol officers were ordered off the road after a suspect was hospitalized with injuries he suffered last week during a scuffle with the police officers, officials confirmed today.
The State Law Enforcement Division was asked to conduct an independent review of the officers’ use of force after supervisors became “concerned with the suspect’s injuries,” Chief John Zumalt of the North Charleston Police Department said in a statement.
Officers Abraham Montes and Doug Armstead will be on administrative duty until that investigation is complete, the chief said.
Zumalt declined to comment further on the case.
The probe stems from the officers’ encounter Wednesday with 22-year-old James Cannon of North Murray Drive in Hanahan.
Montes wrote in an incident report that he and Armstead spotted Cannon “rolling what appeared to be a marijuana cigarette” on the railroad tracks near Remount Road and Dakota Street.
When the officers tried to get Cannon’s attention, he started walking away, Montes wrote. When they called loudly, he started running, Montes’ report stated.
During the ensuing foot chase, Montes managed to get in front of Cannon near the railroad tracks at Palm Street.
In spite of officers’ pleas for him to get on the ground, Montes said the suspect began charging at him.
“I observed the suspect making a fist with his right hand and he swung at” my face, Montes wrote.
Montes stated that he ducked the punch, then conducted a takedown maneuver that caused Cannon’s head to hit the ground.
But Cannon “continued to resist arrest” by “moving and kicking” and getting up, Montes wrote. Cannon kicked Montes twice in the shin, the officer wrote.
That’s when Armstead caught up and joined the struggle, according to the report. Armstead grabbed the man, causing them both to fall.
But the suspect kept “swinging and punching,” the report stated.
Armstead grappled with Cannon and clinched handcuffs on his left wrist. But Cannon’s right wrist remained free.
When Cannon started using the attached handcuff as a weapon by flailing it around, Montes reported that he feared for his and his fellow officer’s lives.
Cannon was on the ground, and Montes kicked him once in an attempt to prevent him from getting up, the officer wrote.
But when Cannon tried to hit Armstead with the handcuffs, Montes stated that he tried to “deliver two strikes on (Cannon’s) facial area and while doing so, I inadvertently struck the suspect in the left eye.”
The police officers finally controlled the suspect with a backup officer’s help.
Cannon smelled of alcohol and told the police that he had been smoking marijuana and “did not want to go to jail,” the report stated.
Cannon was treated at Roper St. Francis Hospital’s Northwoods facility. He was given a court summons for trespassing on railroad property and resisting arrest.
He was not jailed.
An update on his condition was not immediately available.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.