The State Law Enforcement Division is taking the lead in an investigation of possible misconduct by three Columbia police officers captured by a security camera in Five Points in October.
"(Columbia Police) Chief Tandy Carter asked us to do so," said SLED Chief Reggie Lloyd on Saturday. "He wanted an objective, third-party opinion, and we wanted to take a look, too."
Lloyd said he was uncertain how long it would take his agency to complete the investigation. It's possible, he said, the investigation might be larger than this one incident.
"You always want to look at whether there is a pattern or a practice of violations of rights (by police)," he said.
If SLED decides there is evidence of police misconduct, it will forward its findings to the 5th Circuit solicitor's office or to federal prosecutors for further action.
At issue is whether three Columbia police officers submitted an accurate police report of the arrest of Myrtle Beach attorney Jonathan McCoy and a friend outside of Sharky's bar in Five Points on Oct. 17.
McCoy was charged with interfering with a police officer -- a charge McCoy denies.
After his arrest, McCoy spent the night in Richland County's Alvin S. Glen Detention Center, where he witnessed another inmate commit suicide by hanging himself.
McCoy has filed a federal lawsuit, claiming he did not interfere with the police officers while they were arresting his friend and that police officers lied in their police report. Instead, McCoy claims, he was exercising his right to question law enforcement officers as to why they were arresting his friend.
McCoy claims Sharky's surveillance video system, which caught the incident on tape, proves he did not interfere with police.
In the police incident report, officers said McCoy "grabbed an officer by the arm and asked what was happening." Officers asked McCoy to step back but he continued to intervene, getting in officers' faces, according to the incident report.
Carter, Columbia's police chief, couldn't immediately be reached for comment Saturday. He told The State newspaper of Columbia earlier that his department was conducting an internal investigation.