State News

Police Misconduct in South Carolina: The Bad Apples

To date of this article 21 Law Enforcement Officers have been charged this year with crimes in the State of South Carolina and are currently being prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office (link here). These officers are being charged with criminal actions while doing their jobs or representing a particular Law Enforcement Department.

Let us begin with stating that these few bad apples are not the norm for Law Enforcement Officers. Most individuals who enter the field of Law Enforcement do so with a sense of wanting to better their communities. Unfortunately, society is only shown the bad apples in the media, which leaves a divide between officers and their community.

This article will be divided into two parts the first showing the small bad apples of Law Enforcement in South Carolina and the second showing the much larger picture of Law Enforcement Departments reaching out to bridge the divide caused by bad publicity from main stream media.

The Bad Apples:

On July 9th, 2021, Officer Jonathan Moreno of the Rock Hill Police Department was arrested and charged with 3rd Degree Assault and Battery. The investigation into his arrest was requested by the Rock Hill Police Department.

The arrest warrant for Moreno states, “the defendant (Moreno) approached Travis Price and used an unreasonable amount of force in that he grabbed Travis Price, pushed him up against a fuel tank, and then forced him to the ground. Once on the ground, the defendant was on top of him and repeatedly yelled at Travis Price to fight him. At the time, Travis Price had been given permission by officers on scene to collect some of his brother’s property following his brothers arrest from a traffic stop. As a result of this incident, Travis Price sustained scratches to areas of his face and arms.

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July 9th, 2021, Officer Aaron Genwright of the Florence Police Department was charged with Second Degree Assault and Battery along with Misconduct. Again this investigation was called for by the Department.

Both arrest warrants state, ” On July 3rd, 2021, Aaron Grenwright, willfully and unlawfully failed to properly and faithfully discharge the lawful duties as a sworn officer with the Florence Police Department. Genwright arrested unknown female for a traffic related offense. While transporting her to the detention center, Genwright pulled the vehicle over and approached her in the rear of the vehicle. Genwright lifted her shirt exposing her bare breast. He then committed a non consensual groping of her bare breast resulting in mental stress to the victim.

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May 13th, 2021, two Anderson County Detention Center Officers were charged with involuntary manslaughter, along with misconduct in office.

These officers, Milton Wilson and Chancelor Saxton performed a leg sweep on Robert Robertson while he was handcuffed behind his back, causing him to fall and hit his head/shoulder area on the floor., as a result Robertson suffered a cervical spine fracture that later resulted in his death.

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January 13th, 2021, a Deputy with the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Department, Johnathan Lewis Goldsmith, was charged with Assault and Battery 2nd Degree and Misconduct in Office. This investigation was requested by the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

The warrants state, “On October 15, 2020, in Kershaw County, Johnathan Goldsmith during an incident where the victim, Tony Sims, was demonstrating noncompliance, Goldsmith used an unreasonable amount of force against Sims. Goldsmith, unnecessarily struck Sims with closed fist strikes to the abdomen, the head and neck area, utilized a conducted electrical weapon multiple times to deliver an electric shock to the neck area of Sims and closed the patrol car door on Sims’ leg several times, causing Sims to become unconscious, receive a fractured jaw, injury to his neck and removal of several teeth.”

These are not all of the incidences of Law Enforcement Bad Apples being charged, for a complete list go here.

It should go without saying that many of South Carolina’s Law Enforcement Communities are outraged and saddened by the acts of these few officers. These officers do not only bring question to the profession but to the trust between Law Enforcement and the communities they swore to “Protect and Serve“.

We need to remember that individuals who have chosen Law Enforcement as a profession have chosen to put their lives on the line to protect others. Law Enforcement Officers are among the lowest paid Public Officials and that many go above and beyond to give to their communities.

In part two of our article we will highlight the many ways several Law Enforcement Departments give back to their communities and try to bridge the gap that has developed between the profession and the community.

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