The State Law Enforcement Division will look into the high-speed pursuit last week that ended when a Charleston County Sheriff’s Office deputy started hitting a suspect who had his hands raised.
Sheriff Al Cannon requested the SLED review, according to a statement today from sheriff’s Maj. Jim Brady. The probe will determine whether an investigation into possible law violations is warranted.
A video first reported by The Post and Courier on Wednesday shows Deputy Cory Shelton run up to the suspect’s car after it stopped May 28 in West Ashley. The driver, 52-year-old felon Peter Jenkins, appears to have his hands up, but Shelton started throwing jabs at the man through an open window.
A sheriff’s internal review also was opened. The probe is a typical procedure after a pursuit to determine whether deputies could have acted differently, Brady said.
The North Charleston Police Department tried to pull over Jenkins’ Kia that afternoon after an officer saw it traveling in a bicycle lane on Spruill Avenue. Officers ended the pursuit when the car left their jurisdiction.
But when officers spotted the Kia again in North Charleston, they resumed the chase and were more determined to stop the car because its driver was thought to be an attempted murder suspect.
The police followed the car at high speeds over busy West Ashley streets. Sheriff’s cruisers and some cars from the Charleston Police Department got involved.
In his Chevrolet Tahoe – a vehicle typically assigned to K9 deputies like him -- Shelton took over the chase on Sam Rittenberg Boulevard.
The video from his Chevrolet showed a North Charleston police car cut off the Kia in the parking lot of a church on Wappoo Road. Shelton promptly got out, rounded his open door and ran straight for the driver’s door.
Still behind the wheel, Jenkins raised his hands as a police officer pointed a gun at him. He lowered them briefly to unlatch his door, then he raised them again.
That’s when Shelton ran up and punched at Jenkins. Shelton reported that his first jab missed, but subsequent ones connected.
After Shelton’s initial strikes, a dozen other deputies and police officers swarmed the car. One climbed into a back seat as others tugged on Jenkins. They pulled Jenkins to the ground.
They said he further resisted arrest by holding his hands so that they couldn’t handcuff him. The video shows the lawmen back off briefly so that a police officer could fire a Taser prong into Jenkins’ back.
The authorities managed to handcuff him after that.
A second video that the Sheriff’s Office released after the newspaper filed a Freedom of Information Act request shows the view from Deputy Adam Midgett’s cruiser. It depicts Shelton’s initial punch, then the camera is promptly knocked from its mount and pointed toward the dashboard of Midgett’s cruiser.
Brady, the sheriff’s spokesman, said the camera was jolted loose when Midgett threw spike strips into his cruiser.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.
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