Columbia -- The FBI and the State Law Enforcement Division are investigating the conduct of Columbia Police Department officers in Five Points.
SLED Chief Reggie Lloyd said several incidents and multiple officers are under investigation as the FBI and SLED look at patterns of behavior and police procedures. Lloyd did not say what kinds of conduct might be in question.
SLED and the FBI began looking into police practices last spring after former Police Chief Tandy Carter requested it, Mike King, Columbia's assistant city manager for public safety, said Friday. Carter's request followed a federal civil rights lawsuit that was filed last winter by a Myrtle Beach attorney against the department over the attorney's arrest in the Five Points area.
Lloyd told The State newspaper in April his agency was investigating the officers involved in that incident but did not mention the FBI.
This week, he said the FBI is involved and the investigation has expanded to include more incidents that his agency had become aware of. He declined to elaborate on those cases.
King said Carter, the former chief, wanted an open and objective investigation into police actions and mostly was looking for guidance in the Five Points case.
"He wanted a professional, third party to review it," King said.
In that incident, Jonathan McCoy was arrested for interfering with a police officer Oct. 17 outside Sharky's bar on Harden Street. His lawsuit claims he was exercising his right to question police about why they were arresting his friend. He also accuses police of filing an inaccurate police report.
Video taken by a sidewalk camera outside a bar shows McCoy being arrested.
McCoy filed his lawsuit in January. After the video surfaced in February, city officials ordered an internal investigation.
The three officers involved remain employed at the Police Department, King said.
Lloyd spoke about the expanded Columbia Police Department investigation while discussing the investigation of a Kershaw County Sheriff's Department deputy who was fired last week after a security camera caught him beating a handcuffed detainee.
Lloyd said his agency now has a policy of asking the FBI to get involved in complaints against other law enforcement agencies if possible civil rights violations are involved.
The FBI does not comment on investigations.
The entertainment district in the heart of Columbia has been the center of attention this summer.
Aside from high-profile complaints against police, there have been two shootings since May. One person was injured in each case. As a result, Columbia City Council is considering a mandatory 2 a.m. closing time for bars.
Last week, a Columbia police officer was acquitted of charges he used excessive force in arresting a USC football player while breaking up a 2008 fight in Five Points.
Scott Linaberry, president of the Five Points Association, said he believes the Columbia police do good work in Five Points. He owns the Sharky's and Red Hot Tomatoes nightclubs.
"A lot of times, what is perceived as excessive force is just pretty much what the police need to do to ensure their own safety and the safety of people around the incident," he said. "I don't witness what I would consider abuse."