Activists protest again for more charges against Berkeley sheriff

Robert Jenkins, dressed as Iron Man, protests in front of the Hanahan Police Department.

A little more than a dozen people gathered Tuesday for at least the second time in a week to express their disappointment in Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt and law enforcement agencies’ handling of criminal charges against him.

DeWitt, 63, was driving a county-owned pickup truck when he was charged Dec. 28 with driving under the influence and leaving the scene of a crash with personal injury. He was released on an unsecured personal recognizance bond later that day.

Dash-cam video released after the incident showed DeWitt’s pickup speeding away from the Hanahan officer who stopped him at more than 100 mph, but the Hanahan Police Department has not charged him with failure to stop for blue lights.

Tuesday’s rally took place outside the Hanahan Police Department and called for the department to charge him for the crime. Police Chief Mike Cochran previously called the situation “sensitive” and said the case is in 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson’s hands. He was unwilling to discuss it further at the time.

One protester Tuesday chanted for Cochran to “do the right thing” and charge DeWitt for failure to stop for a blue light, while others held signs encouraging the same. Some signs called for DeWitt’s resignation and others held messages about how the law should be the same for everyone.

“If that had been anyone but (DeWitt), there would have been multiple charges and Hanahan needs to own up to their responsibility,” said Deborah Bagley, 59, of Berkeley County. “No one should be above the law.”

She said the unfolding of events surrounding the criminal situation and the lack of charges involved made it look like DeWitt was part of a “good ol’ boy system.”

Robert Jenkins, 55, of North Charleston, was also at Tuesday’s protest. He said he was hit by a car in December and the driver fled the scene, which makes DeWitt’s alleged crimes more personal to him.

“Regardless of who it is, whoever does that crime needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.

“We think Hanahan needs to do the right thing and charge (DeWitt) like they would if it was me.”

Jenkins — who attended another rally against DeWitt last week at the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office — also pointed out inequalities in the arrest process that he observed on video of the incident, including DeWitt riding in the front seat of a police cruiser and making a phone call from the vehicle before being booked in the Charleston County jail.

“These things wouldn’t happen for someone like me,” he added.

As protesters shook their signs at traffic and yelled slogans such as “Fire DeWitt” and “If it doesn’t fit, quit,” many passing cars honked in support.

“I’m pretty much tired of the good ol’ boy system in Berkeley County,” said Daryl Collins Jr., 33, of Sangaree in Summerville. “We’re all worried this is going to go away.”

He said he has lost trust in the Sheriff’s Office and the people who work there. Jeremy Griffin, 35, also of Summerville, agreed and said more needed to be done.

“What (DeWitt) did was wrong, absolutely wrong,” Griffin said. “Major action needs to be taken.”

Reach Melissa Boughton at 937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughtonPC.