An attorney for a West Ashley man said today that his client was brutally beaten and wrongfully arrested after a sheriff’s deputy stopped the 19-year-old for failing to use a turn signal.
Devante Antwan Pittman of Orleans Road will require extensive oral surgery after the Nov. 11 arrest that’s being investigated by the State Law Enforcement Division, said his attorney, Lionel Lofton of Daniel Island.
A lawsuit that Lofton filed this afternoon alleges that Deputy Christopher Davis of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office started using a flashlight to hit Pittman in the mouth during a traffic stop on Orleans Road in West Ashley.
Lofton said Davis starting attacking his client “for no reason.”
After Davis and two other deputies, James Howard and Gilbert Baldwin, pulled Pittman from his Dodge Charger, Davis punched Pittman in the mouth, according to the lawsuit.
Several teeth were dislodged, including one with some bone still attached, Lofton added.
An incident report stated that Pittman “became belligerent” and tried to pull Davis into his car during the traffic stop. He suffered “minor injuries” during a “brief struggle” that ensued, the report stated, and he was later hospitalized.
The deputies had been in the area investigating reports of earlier gunfire.
SLED spokesman Thom Berry confirmed this afternoon that agents were investigating an allegation of excessive force, but he declined to comment further.
Maj. Jim Brady said the Sheriff’s Office asked SLED to investigate the case, but he declined to comment further.
Davis was placed on paid leave after the incident, Brady said. He has been a deputy since April 2011. Before that, he had worked at the Cannon Detention Center since June 2010.
On Friday, The Post and Courier filed a Freedom of Information Act request for video of the arrest.
It was Pittman’s first arrest, according to SLED records. He faces a charge of third-degree assault and battery, and a ticket for failing to use a turn signal.
Lofton said that his client’s arrest for a crime when he did nothing to provoke the attack “makes it even worse.”
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.