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SLED investigating Hanahan traffic stop of Berkeley sheriff

SLED investigating Hanahan traffic stop of Berkeley sheriff

From our News Partners at WCIV-TV:

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) -- The Hanahan Police Department is under investigation for the traffic stop officers conducted on Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne Dewitt last month.

Dewitt was stopped for a possible DUI and leaving the scene of an accident. While dash cam video shows Dewitt driving around a marked Hanahan police car at nearly 100 miles per hour and leading the officer on a drive through part of the county, he was never charged with failure to stop for blue lights.

But the police department handed everything off to the Ninth Circuit Solicitor's Office, asking that office to determine the charges.

In a statement released late Thursday night on the department's Facebook page, the Hanahan Police Department addressed some of the questions it's faced since Dewitt's arrest.

"Since the onset of this case, the Hanahan Police Department has been working with the relevant state authorities in order to ensure that the case is handled in a fashion that will ensure that justice is served," the post reads. "Very early in the case, Chief Cochran met with Ninth Circuit Solicitor, Scarlett A. Wilson, to request her assistance with potential charges. Shortly thereafter, SLED was asked to follow up on the details of the case."

Officials went on to say that once the case has been completed, the department will release a timeline to show how the case was handled and the steps that were taken.

State Law Enforcement Division Thom Berry said Thursday night that his agency was investigating the traffic stop, but "as this is a case under active investigation, it would be inappropriate to discuss specific details of our agents' work."

Since the Dec. 28 stop and arrest of Dewitt, the Hanahan Police Department has been one focal point of public rage. There have been several protests outside the police department calling for charges and for Dewitt to resign his office.

However, Dewitt has remained in office releasing only a short statement since the incident.

The case has been a confusing matter of jurisdiction that has already led to the filing of new bills in the state Legislature to give state police powers to arrest sheriffs.

Dewitt was arrested by state Troopers about an hour after his county-owned truck hit the back of a sedan before 6 a.m. in Goose Creek.

From there, he led an officer to North Rhett Boulevard before running a red light and stopping on Bankton Circle. Dash cam videos show Dewitt was ordered from the truck, but he failed to put the truck in park, so it rolled forward, leading to officers jumping over Dewitt and into the truck's cab to put it in park.

Other videos show Dewitt stumbling through a series of sobriety tests.

However, when Dewitt was taken in front of a bond court judge, the judge free Dewitt on personal recognizance, saying state law said only a coroner had to power to arrest a sheriff.

State police officials said they had the power to arrest Dewitt, saying they had all the power of a sheriff. But a literal reading of state law shows that sheriffs cannot arrest each other.

Photo Credit: Nicole_K Shutterstock

 

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