COLUMBIA— Disorderly conduct, trespassing and resisting arrest charges were dropped Monday against South Carolina NAACP President Lonnie Randolph on the same day his trial was set to begin.
City of Columbia prosecutors said the owner of the dry cleaners where Randolph was arrested decided not to go forward with the case. They said they received the letter Friday.
Randolph’s lawyer, Joe McCulloch, said the letter sent to the city was dated Dec. 6 and prosecutors never should have brought the case this far.
“I’m frankly disgusted with the city’s attorney’s office to not being able to make this decision sooner than the morning of trial,” McCulloch said outside the courtroom.
Randolph was arrested July 12 as he went to a Tripp’s Fine Cleaners downtown to pick up clothes for an out of town trip. He is diabetic and told an employee he needed help. But instead of calling for an ambulance, the clerk asked for police, saying Randolph refused to pay for his clothes or leave.
When officers arrived, Randolph was unable to follow their commands and lost several teeth as he was slammed to the ground during his arrest. The officers kept Randolph in handcuffs even after being brought to the hospital to be treated for his low blood sugar levels.
Randolph didn’t talk after his case was dismissed, but has said he thinks his race was a factor in the reactions that day. He said one officer at the hospital told him to hurry and finish eating so they could take him to jail.
“I said, ‘Why are you rushing me? I don’t feel well,”’ Randolph said. “I remember his response clearly: ‘You mean to tell me you never been in jail before?”’
McCulloch planned to call up to 17 witnesses, including several prominent citizens like the Richland County sheriff and Columbia’s police chief and mayor, to testify Randolph has had similar diabetic episodes before.