A Charleston County sheriff’s deputy was arrested this morning on a charge that he roughed up a West Ashley man during a traffic stop in November.
Deputy Christopher Davis faces a misdemeanor count of third-degree assault and battery, the same charge for which he arrested his alleged victim, 19-year-old Devante Antwan Pittman.
Davis, 27, turned himself in before 9 this morning after a State Law Enforcement Division investigation. Magistrate Linda Lombard held a special bond hearing for Davis, allowing him to leave jail on his own recognizance about an hour after being booked.
Davis was on paid leave until his arrest today, according to Maj. Jim Brady of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office. The deputy is now on unpaid leave, Brady said.
Before becoming a sworn deputy in April 2011, Davis had worked at the Cannon Detention Center for less than a year and at the Dorchester County jail for nearly two years.
On the night of Nov. 11, Pittman’s Dodge Charger was pulled over because Davis said he turned from Savannah Highway onto Orleans Road, where he lives, without signaling.
In-car video from the deputy’s cruiser shows Davis standing at the driver’s side of the Dodge, which is stopped in the West Ashley Shoppes parking lot on Orleans Road. At some point, Davis said Pittman grabbed him and pulled him toward the car.
Through a civil lawsuit filed by his attorney, Lionel Lofton of Daniel Island, Pittman disputed that account. Instead, he said the deputy started hitting him with a flashlight without reason.
Two other deputies worked with Davis to remove Pittman, who got snagged on his seat belt.
But once Pittman is standing outside the Dodge, the video shows Davis grab his head and punch him six times. Pittman does not appear to struggle or defend himself. He falls, and the deputies handcuff him.
Later, as Pittman sits in a patrol car, Davis curses at him to be quiet. “You are going to jail,” he says. “You don’t like it, you don’t grab me!”
Pittman lost a tooth and needed reconstructive oral surgery, Lofton said.
It was the first arrest for the West Ashley High graduate who was described by his attorney as docile and mild-mannered. His assault charge remains unresolved, and he has requested a jury trial.
The lawsuit against Davis and the Sheriff’s Office, as well as the two other deputies, also remains pending in federal court. It seeks monetary damages for the pain and anguish that Pittman said he suffered.
In its response to the civil complaint, the Sheriff’s Office denied all of the accusations, including civil liberties violations, lodged against it.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.