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Woman sues Georgetown sheriff, detention center for alleged treatment in traffic stop

Georgetown County Detention Center (copy)

A Georgetown County woman alleges in a May 6 lawsuit that she was abused and sworn at by county detention center staff following a 2021 arrest. File

GEORGETOWN — A recent lawsuit alleges the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office used excessive force in a 2021 traffic stop and later ignored a woman's pleas for medical attention at the county jail.

Brandi Nicole Barnett filed the suit against Georgetown County Sheriff Carter Weaver, the detention center and Georgetown County. Barnett says in her complaint that she was traveling from Charleston to Georgetown on April 11, 2021, when a county sheriff's deputy stopped her. Barnett says she was never given a reason for the stop. 

Barnett said she turned on her blinkers to acknowledge the traffic stop but since the road was "completely dark," she felt she did not have a safe area to pull over. She then called 911 and spoke to a dispatch supervisor "to alert them of what she was doing and for her own protection, due to her previous experiences with" the sheriff's office, the suit says.

Barnett filed a separate lawsuit in 2017 alleging that a Georgetown County deputy tried to physically remove her from her car without probable cause and smashed her windows during a traffic stop. Court records show the case was settled in December 2020.

When stopped in 2021, Barnett said the deputy tried to open her vehicle door through the window.

The deputy used excessive force and assaulted Barnett when trying to remove her from her car, she said. 

The arresting deputy wrote that Barnett was driving 78 mph in a 60 mph zone, according to an incident report provided by the Georgetown County Sheriff's office. Authorities also said Barnett continued driving for about four miles and passed multiple places where she could have pulled over before finally stopping at a South Fraser Street gas station.

She was booked into Georgetown County Detention Center on charges of resisting arrest and failing to stop for a blue light.

After Barnett was taken to Georgetown County Detention Center, she says in her lawsuit that she was subjected to profanity and abuse by staff and threatened with a Taser to remove her face mask. She says she contracted a bacterial skin infection and was denied medical treatment.

Barnett's jail stay was prolonged by a charge of "discharging bodily fluid on a detention officer," the lawsuit states.

She is seeking unspecified damages and attorney fees. 

The Georgetown County Sheriff's Office does not comment on pending litigation, spokesman Jason Lesley said.

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Mike Woodel reports on Georgetown County for The Post and Courier. He graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2018 and previously worked for newspapers in Montana and South Dakota.