BISHOPVILLE, SC (WIS) - An undercover WIS investigation has four Lee County deputies explaining their actions at a Bishopville night club to the county sheriff. The investigation exposed potentially wasted tax dollars and hands-on security checks that some call "inappropriate."
Two off-duty Lee County deputies, John Jackson and Captain Lynn Blakney, were working door security at the Davis Social Club on Highway 15 inside the Bishopville city limits Tuesday night. Blakney, dressed in a heavy jacket with "SHERIFF" written across the back, was posted outside the club for security. Both deputies were in the department-issued vehicles. Jackson was in a white Ford Crown Victoria and Blakney was in an unmarked Ford truck.
Both officers were patting patrons down and escorting women to and from the club's parking lot. WIS cameras caught Deputy Jackson patting a female patron down at the front door as the woman, facing away from Jackson, started "grinding" on the deputy. Video shows Jackson slap the woman on the buttocks twice. A second woman in the group backs up to Jackson and he spends several seconds rubbing the woman's back, before putting both arms around the woman and thrusting his pelvis into her.
Lee County dispatch records show that only two deputies, Corporal Louis Torres and school resource officer Shante Demery, were on duty patrolling the county at the time. Those deputies showed up at the Davis Social Club.
At 11:47 p.m., a man identified by Lee County Sheriff Daniel Simon as Demery pulls up in front of the club and parks his marked patrol car in the median. Demery walks to the club's door where Blakney and Jackson were working. At 12:18 a.m., a second deputy, identified by the sheriff as Torres, parks his marked cruiser behind Blakney's and joins the other officers at the club's door.
WIS cameras show the men standing in front of the business for exactly one hour before we approached the deputies at 12:47 a.m. to find out why they were not patrolling the county. Blakney approaches our camera, then uses his hand to cover the lens. "Who are you with?" Blakney asks. "I'm with WIS, who are you with?" said Barr. Blakney then pushed the camera away and asked, "What are you doing?"
We informed Blakney that we wanted to know why the county's only on-duty deputies were at the club. Blakney walked away, then ordered Demery and Torres to leave. As Demery walked to his car, we asked why he was there. "Can I get your name, sir?" asked Barr. "No sir, you can get that (camera) out," said Demery. "You can't give me your name?" asked Barr. "Why have you been here an hour?" Demery did not answer and climbed into his car and drove away.
Corporal Torres, walking to his cruiser, did not answer our questions as to why he was standing outside the club. "What about you sir?" said Barr "There are two deputies on duty in this county, why have you been out here for 45 minutes?" Torres got in to his cruiser and drove away.
Sheriff Simon took over the department in May after the former sheriff's arrest and conviction on drug conspiracy, racketeering, extortion, and money laundering charges. Simon told WIS by phone Wednesday, "There is no excuse for this. I'm paying these guys to patrol and if I have to work 24 hours a day from now on to make sure they're doing their job, I will," said Simon. "I'm disappointed; number one after all the stuff we've been through in the past several months, we don't need this."
Late Wednesday, Simon declined to do an on camera interview. He said he would make any personnel or policy decisions after he saw the report on the news.
The sheriff declined a second request for an interview Thursday morning. Simon said he's still reviewing the video and will "probably have a decision by the end of the week, if not by the first of next week," said Simon. "It's still under investigation."