All those folks who think Washington bureaucrats don't have the sense God gave a goose may have to reconsider that assumption.
Last week the U.S. Department of Justice said it would not pursue civil rights charges against Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon for slapping a prisoner. The feds took one look at the case and said, effectively, no big deal.
And some people say justice is blind.
This all stems from a January incident when Timothy McManus led Cannon and practically the entire sheriff's office on a chase through Mount Pleasant at speeds of up to 125 mph. After deputies arrested the guy, an angry Cannon asked McManus what his problem was, and McManus made the mistake of smarting off. So the sheriff smacked McManus across the face.
He didn't knock any teeth out of McManus, or any sense into him.
Justice has it right. Let's not make a federal case out of this.
Cannon turned himself in to SLED and, in August, a solicitor decided to charge him with a misdemeanor.
He currently is in a pre-trial intervention program, which should close the book on this. He can even get his record expunged, like any first-time offender.
Cannon will probably do that, but it's not like this has hurt his reputation. For the few folks out there complaining about police brutality, far more people think the sheriff was just expressing the frustration of sensible citizens who are sick of habitual offenders putting others at risk.
Since Cannon's outburst, people have jokingly asked why he didn't smack the guy who held up Cooper River Bridge traffic last February. A few lawmakers even suggested giving him a medal.
And, let's be clear, Cannon will be re-elected next week.
Cannon says the experience has been even more humbling than it was humiliating.
“They obviously had to look at it,” Cannon says. “I would point out that you need to expect more from your sheriff and police officers than to do something like that.”
What he means is that police brutality is a serious issue. And the sheriff knows that.
Cannon turned himself in and also asked for an independent review of the actions of his deputies who arrested McManus, too. They were cleared of any wrongdoing.
Bottom line, some of this comes down to personal responsibility. It doesn't take a rocket scientist, which is not McManus' chosen vocation, to know that it's not smart to talk smack to an angry sheriff who has just chased you halfway across the county.
Coincidentally, since January, McManus has been arrested again for driving on a suspended license, his sixth offense, and currently is sitting in jail with his bond revoked — probably not a bad idea.
Meanwhile, Cannon is out trying to keep the streets safe from people like McManus, which is how it should be. Our court system is too clogged up to take up space with a sheriff who got a little emotional about his job.
So bravo to the Justice Department for showing a little common sense.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BriHicks_PandC