Internal reports detail 'unwarranted and improper' actions by officers

Angela Scott, who says she was handcuffed to a car bumper by a Highway Patrol officer last year, talks about the incident on Tuesday.

COLUMBIA — Angela Scott said the state trooper left her scared and alone on the side of a dark country road.

She said she didn't know why the patrolman had handcuffed her to his cruiser, why he had her car towed or why he left, refusing to give her a ride home.

And when she called 911, she said two other local police departments refused to help her.

"He just left me. I am a woman, standing by myself, he just left me — I can't do this," Scott said during one of several emergency calls she made that night on the roadside. On Tuesday, the vibrant woman broke down as she heard her own voice for the first time, sounding so desperate and confused, playing back on a boombox in her lawyer's Columbia office.

The trooper's report doesn't dispute that he handcuffed Scott and later left her at the scene, but he indicates she was argumentative.

The incident is one of several brought to light in the last week that cost Department of Public Safety Director James K. Schweitzer and Highway Patrol commander Col. Russell Roark their jobs.

The internal investigations of that Highway Patrol traffic stop and another show that supervisors admitted troopers' actions were "unwarranted and improper" and the use of a racial slur "inappropriate" but doled out little punishment. And the troopers are still on the job.

The internal reports, made available to the media, surfaced just as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said it is investigating reports of similar incidents, including allegations of police brutality against at least one other black suspect. And state lawmakers say they have been privately contacted by troopers worried about the internal workings of South Carolina's most elite law enforcement agency.

The incident that led black lawmakers to videotapes of improprieties in the Highway Patrol involved Lance Cpl. Daniel C. Campbell. On Dec. 12, 2004, he stopped a car in Greenwood County with three black men inside for not dimming the headlights on an old white Cadillac.

According to reports, Campbell said he smelled alcohol and asked the men to step out of the car. When one of the men, Jeremy Travio Saxon, then 18, got out, Campbell saw a .38-caliber revolver on the floorboard. Campbell told the three men to put their hands on the car, but Saxon ran.

When he did, the video shows Campbell yelling, "You better run, (n-word), because I'm fixin' to kill you."

Campbell said he used pepper spray and his baton to subdue Saxon, who Campbell said tried to strike him and continued to pull away. On the tape, Saxon is heard asking why Campbell is beating him. Campbell says it's because he was resisting arrest.

Saxon was not injured during the struggle, according to Highway Patrol's records, but Campbell was treated for exhaustion.

Among Saxon's seven-page criminal history in South Carolina are March 2007 charges of murder, armed robbery with a deadly weapon and assault and battery with intent to kill.

Campbell reported finding cocaine, marijuana and a second handgun in the Cadillac. All three men were taken to the Greenwood County Detention Center.

In the second controversial incident, Angela Scott was stopped by then-Lance Cpl. J.H. Lane in Clarendon County on Oct. 19.

According to Lane's statement as part of the internal investigation, he had clocked Scott's car at 91 mph in a 55 mph zone. By the time he turned his cruiser around, he saw a black man walking away from the car.

At first the man, identified as Clarence Montgomery, told him he had seen a young black man jump from the vehicle and run into the woods. A few minutes later, though, Montgomery admitted to Lane that he had been driving the car but was scared because his license was suspended.

When Lane came back to where the car was stopped after searching for and arresting Montgomery, the car was gone.

Scott, 48, said Tuesday that she let her boyfriend borrow the car to go to the store, but a short time later she received a breathless call from her boyfriend's cousin — Montgomery — that the car was left nearby on the roadside. Then he hung up.

"I'm angry," Scott said, recalling her emotions during the situation. "I don't know what's going on."

Scott said she found the car several yards from her boyfriend's house with a door left open, and asked some men standing nearby if they had seen any police. She said those men had told her they had.

Next, Scott said she took her car, but when she saw the Highway Patrol cruiser coming up behind her, she waved down the officer and pulled to the side of the road. Lane said he was the one who initiated the stop.

"The trooper jumps out — 'Get out the car,' 'Get out the car,' " Scott recalled Lane shouting. "He said, 'I had two people run from me today. You will not be the third.' I had no idea what he was talking about."

Lane then handcuffed her to his cruiser, even though the investigation reports noted that Scott was "cooperative." Scott, who worked for about 15 years as a California correctional officer before moving to Manning in 2006, said Lane cuffed her to the cruiser for about 30 minutes. He was the one with an attitude, she said.

"He pinned me to the car like a pig, an animal," Scott said. "Here I am a mother, an aunt. I didn't understand."

Lane said he had called a tow truck and asked Scott if she had a ride, she said yes, and he told her there was a convenience store about 100 yards down the road where she could wait.

Scott's and Lane's versions of the events differ. In the end, Scott said she asked the trooper for a ride, he refused, she tried to call 911 and, ultimately, found herself on the side of the road for more than an hour waiting for her mother, who is now 82 years old, and her niece to find her on a dark roadside.

Lane stated Scott "started to get loud, hollering at me, wanting to know why I had to tow her car. At this point, I felt like I could not talk to her anymore without her getting disorderly. The longer I was standing there, the louder she got. At that point, I proceeded back to my vehicle."

Scott, who was never charged as a result of the incident, received a check from the tow truck driver covering her expenses that was dated around the time her story was first publicized about a week ago.

Details of the stop involving Scott and other incidents caught on tape continue to be brought forward. In the meantime, the Senate is preparing to launch its own investigation with the help of the NAACP and Legislative Black Caucus.

For Scott, she said she believes the Senate will find a lot of stories like hers when they start to look.

"I'm a city girl. I'm not afraid," said Scott, who was raised in New York. "A lot of Southern people say, 'Don't say nothing. It could have been worse.' I'm not one of them."