Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon has been arrested and charged with third-degree assault and battery for slapping a handcuffed suspect after a car chase, authorities said.
Cannon, 65, of Pinehaven Drive was booked and fingerprinted at the Charleston County jail, according to the State Law Enforcement Division.
The arrest was a result of an investigation requested by the Sheriff’s Office. He will be prosecuted by the 16th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, SLED said.
Sixteenth Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett of York County recommended that SLED charge Cannon with the misdemeanor charge, with carries a punishment of 30 days in jail or a $500 fine.
The charge would not preclude Cannon from serving in office or in law enforcement. Since he has no prior criminal record, Cannon would be eligible to enter a pre-trial diversion program, he said.
Cannon said he would not fight the charge filed against him and that he does not plan to step down.
He said he expects that anger management would be part of any pre-trial program he enters.
Brackett said he is not recommending any charges be filed against any of the other officers who participated in the Jan. 30 chase of Timothy McManus, 31, of Mount Pleasant.
“I think it was out of character, certainly,” he said of his actions against McManus. “I have accepted responsibility for this.”
McManus had a suspended license when Cannon said McManus’ Dodge Ram nearly collided with the sheriff’s vehicle. The encounter ignited a 25-mile chase through East Cooper that reached speeds of 120 mph and ended when Cannon and deputies shot out the pickup’s tires in the Francis Marion National Forest.
McManus faces two traffic tickets and misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and failure to stop for blue lights.
A police dog bit McManus’ arm as deputies subdued him, and Cannon later slapped a handcuffed McManus in the face, two acts that drew public criticism.
Brackett said deputies acted with appropriate force in subduing McManus and could not have known when he reached under his body that day that he didn’t have a weapon.
“They were justified in using the force they needed to get him under control,” he said.
Cannon, on the other hand, admitted to slapping McManus as he sat handcuffed in a sheriff’s vehicle, Brackett said.
“That is a violation of South Carolina law, and I think evidence would support a charge of third-degree assault,” he said.
SLED completed its report on the pursuit in late spring. Brackett was asked to review the findings for possible charges because he has no ties to anyone involved in the incident,
McManus, meanwhile, is back in jail after deputies on Monday found him sleeping behind the wheel of a sport-utility vehicle that was still in drive, sheriff’s officials said. He faces a count of third-offense driving under suspension, being a habitual offender, borrowing or lending a license tag, and operating an uninsured motor vehicle, said Maj. Jim Brady of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office.
Schuyler Kropf contributed to this story.