North Charleston officers cleared in death

Louis Jermaine Broomfield

Bleeding from the leg and yelling for help, Louis Jermaine Broomfield jumped into a police officer's car on a Union Heights street a year ago.

Police later gathered that Broomfield had grabbed some cocaine without paying for it and that another man started chasing him, firing a handgun.

While waiting for an ambulance, North Charleston police decided to detain the 35-year-old, who had been hit by a bullet in his leg. He struggled and officers used a Taser. He died soon after at a hospital.

Any number of things could have killed Broomfield on the morning of April 24, 2007. A SLED report released recently says it was a cocaine overdose — not the gunshot or three Taser shocks authorities say he received. Police never recovered any drugs from the scene. Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson reviewed the evidence last month and called the death "an unfortunate incident."

"I am confident that the use of the Taser by the officers of the North Charleston Police Department was appropriate and necessary, given the actions of Mr. Broomfield," she wrote in a letter to a state investigator dated April 14. "After reviewing the SLED report, I am of the opinion that Mr. Broomfield appears to have met his death accidentally as a result of his use of cocaine."

Sgt. William Hardee was driving the cruiser that Broomfield first jumped into, then he and a second officer tried to detain the wounded man. Pfc. David Blackwell also arrived, and Hardee ordered him to use a Taser.

The solicitor advised SLED to close its file. The state agency released the report to The Post and Courier this week.

Initially, the Coroner's Office said the gunshot wound to Broomfield's leg would not have been fatal by itself. Two separate analyses mentioned in the SLED report show that he had alcohol and cocaine in his blood.

Broomfield's aunt, Brenda McClary, declined to comment on Tuesday, saying she wanted to see the official report first. She said SLED had promised to call her when it had finished the investigation but hadn't so far.

Police arrested two men in Broomfield's shooting, a few blocks from where they first encountered the wounded man.

The Solicitor's Office said Terrell Maurice Archield, now 21, pleaded guilty to assault and battery with intent to kill on Feb. 7. Circuit Judge Thomas L. Hughston Jr. sentenced Archield to 10 years in prison, with credit for time he spent in jail since being arrested. The sentence will be suspended after five years to five years probation.

Charges are still pending against Eric Roshard Nathaniel, now 19, for accessory after the fact of assault and battery with intent to kill and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.

As a matter of routine, Blackwell was placed on paid administrative leave and later returned to work. He is no longer with the department but left in good standing, said Spencer Pryor, the department's public information officer.