SLED to investigate toy gun altercation

The State Law Enforcement Division is in the early stages of an investigation into a physical encounter at a playground between an off-duty Charleston Police Department officer and a woman who argued about a toy gun, according to officials.

Charleston police asked SLED to investigate the incident, which occurred about 4 p.m. Sunday in Brittlebank Park between officer John Mark Chittwood, 27, of Lockwood Drive, and Marquita Cherron McCall, 26, of Olde Towne Road, said department spokesman Charles Francis in a news release.

McCall said the two got into a verbal argument over Chittwood breaking and throwing away a toy gun that his son found near the playground, according to an incident report. She said the toy gun belonged to her son and that he pointed Chittwood out to her as the one who destroyed it.

She became upset and confronted Chittwood, who was off duty at the time, and said that she would be contacting police over it, the report states. Chittwood told her he would do the same and in an effort to ensure he had McCall’s information for a report, he allegedly followed her to her vehicle to get a license plate number.

Upon seeing him approach, McCall allegedly used her body to shield the license plate from him. Chittwood then told the woman he was an officer and that she was hindering his ability to properly record information, according to the report.

She told police that she responded, ‘well we did what we did’ and then Chittwood threw her to the ground where she was held down until officers arrived, the report states.

When officers arrived, they found Chittwood on top of McCall “in a manner to suggest he was detaining her until police arrived.” He let her go, however, once officers were on scene.

The report states that his wife was the one who called police “concerned for her husband’s safety.” Chittwood is listed as the victim on the police report.

SLED spokesman Thom Berry confirmed Monday that they did get a request to investigate the incident.

Francis said the request resulted from an internal review of the incident and that Chittwood has been placed on administrative leave without pay in the interim. He has been with the department since Jan. 7, 2013.

Neither Chittwood nor McCall has ever been arrested in the state of South Carolina, according to SLED.

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