Friends and family pray, march, demand answers after man shot, killed by deputies on James Island
Derryl Drayton was the last person in the world you would expect to be shot dead by deputies, to hear family and friends tell it.
The 51-year-old church organist and neighborhood handyman was killed Saturday night after an argument with his sister. He kept resisting arrest and poked a deputy in the leg with a knife, according to the Charleston County Sheriff's Office.
Nobody in his James Island neighborhood seems to believe Drayton attacked anybody with a knife. They also don't believe deputies had to shoot him after hitting him twice with a Taser.
“This just doesn't make any sense,” said Marsha Rivers, who lives near Drayton's parents on Greenhill Road.
About 75 relatives, neighbors and friends marched through the streets calling for a full investigation Sunday afternoon.
The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating. SLED does not typically answer questions until the investigation is complete.
“I just hope they do a full investigation,” said Rosalee Mitchell, who led a prayer at a marker where Drayton was shot.
Mitchell said Drayton lived with her daughter on Fort Johnson Road because he couldn't get along with his sister, who lives at their parents' house. He was scheduled to play organ for the children's choir Sunday morning at James Island United Congregational Church, she said.
Drayton often played organ and sang at various area churches, according to his friends. He also helped out with church dinners, painted houses, fixed floors, whatever needed to be done.
“He was good to everyone,” neighbor Sarah Ladson said.
Despite his church work and community service, Drayton has had numerous run-ins with the law over the last several years, according to Charleston County Court records. Court records spell his name Darryl, although family members say Derryl is the correct spelling.
He pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia in October 2004.
He was charged with disorderly conduct and assaulting a police officer while resisting arrest in December 2005. The outcome of that charge is not clear.
In December 2006, he pleaded guilty to third-degree arson and was given credit for almost seven months in jail. A stolen-vehicle charge that same year was dropped.
His most recent conviction was July 2011, when he again pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia.
Based on Drayton's behavior Saturday night, deputies said they had no choice but to shoot him.
He was visiting his mother on Greenhill Road when he got into an argument with his older sister, who lives there. Drayton's sister called for deputies. He had left the house by the time they arrived.
Deputies said they caught up with Drayton on nearby Seaside Lane, but he refused to cooperate. They said he swung at them, took off running and threatened to harm himself with a knife when they caught up with him again, according to Maj. Jim Brady.
Deputies used a Taser on him twice. He still managed to cut one of them on the leg, and the deputies had to shoot him, according to Brady. He died in the grass by Seaside Lane. A memorial with candles and a stuffed teddy bear marks the spot. A red stain on the grass was still visible Sunday.
Friends and relatives said they believe deputies shot Drayton while his hands were in the air, after he had surrendered. That version of events was universally accepted in the neighborhood Sunday.
Adrian Flood said he was at a house across the street when Drayton was shot.
“I saw him walking with his hands in the air,” he said. “They shot him while he was surrendering.”
He said he heard a girl nearby cry out, “Oh, no, they're shooting him.”
The deputies who shot Drayton have not been identified. They have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure in a shooting, Brady said.
It was the second time this year that a Charleston County deputy shot a man who posed a threat.
In the first shooting this year, Deputy Kim Poirer wounded a 52-year-old felon who had led her on a brief pursuit in a U-Haul truck on June 2.
Ricky Anthony Jennings of Texas, who had just gotten out of prison in April, was shot twice during the encounter near a boat landing alongside the North Santee River in Georgetown County. Poirer had chased the truck from the McClellanville area northward on U.S. Highway 17.
Jennings ran away from Poirer after stopping the truck. The two started a scuffle in which Poirer hit the man a few times with a Taser. Jennings continued to fight, Poirer told investigators.
When the two separated, Poirer said Jennings reached into his pockets. That's when she put two bullets into Jennings — one in his back and another in an arm.
SLED later cleared Poirer of any wrongdoing. Jennings is still in the Charleston County jail on charges of reckless driving and failure to stop for a blue light.
Saturday's incident also is the second fatal shooting by a tri-county law officer this year.
On Aug. 19, a Hanahan police officer killed 22-year-old Travis Jerome Miller, who had run away from a traffic stop and started shooting at officers.