COTTAGEVILLE, SC (WCSC) - A civil lawsuit has been filed by the children of former Cottageville Mayor Bert Reeves who authorities say was shot to death by a service revolver during a struggle with a police officer.
The suit was filed against the Town of Cottageville, the police department and former police officer Randy Price.The suit alleges Reeves' civil rights were violated and also alleges wrongful death, negligence and assault and battery.
According to the suit, when Price was hired he began to target Reeves. The suit says Reeves voiced concerns about complaints he received from residents regarding Price's aggressive behavior. The suit was filed in Colleton County on behalf of Reeves' two children.
Authorities say the May 16 shooting left Reeves dead from a single gunshot wound to the chest. The police report lists the incident as an aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and listed Reeves as a suspect.
Police Chief John Craddock revealed last year that Reeves apparently had a prior beef with Price over an incident that happened back in March.
Attorneys representing Reeves' children released the following release:
Today, Charleston Attorney Mullins McLeod filed suit on behalf of the innocent children of former Cottageville Mayor Bert Reeves who was shot and killed by Cottageville Police Officer Randall Price on May 16, 2011. McLeod was quoted as saying: "The family feels that justice in this case involves both criminal and civil liability. Today's lawsuit marks the first step towards justice in the civil case."
In commenting on the allegations in the complaint, McLeod stated: "The civil case focuses on the inexcusable decision by the Town to hire an officer with a 'tarnished badge' to work in a small, quaint town like Cottageville as well as Officer Price's reckless behavior the day of the shooting."
The Complaint details Price's checkered past as a law enforcement officer including being fired from the McCormick County Sheriff's Office in 1999, the Wagener Police Department in 2000, the Aiken County Sheriff's Office in 2001, and the Blackville Police Department in 2006. The lawsuit also details that Officer Price has had prior allegations of excessive force and brutality and had displayed aggressive behavior.
McLeod went on to state: "Our investigation leads us to believe that approximately 70% of the Town of Cottageville's annual revenue comes from traffic tickets and court fines and it was for these monetary reasons that the Town hired such an aggressive officer."
The complaint, which is available at www.mcleod-lawgroup.com, alleges a claim for the violation of Bert Reeves' Civil Rights and also alleges Wrongful Death, Negligence, Assault and Battery against all defendants, as well as Negligent Hiring, Supervision and Retention against the Town of Cottageville and the Cottageville Police Department.
The complaint further alleges that when Officer Price was hired he began to target Bert Reeves because Reeves had voiced his concerns about complaints he received from Cottageville residents regarding Officer Price's aggressive behavior.