NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - An attorney who is representing a 22-year-old man involved in an excessive force investigation says his client ran from a police officer because the officer did not identify himself.
Attorney David Aylor, who is representing James Cannon, released a statement stating that Cannon did nothing wrong since the first officer on scene did not identify himself as a police officer.
"The first responding officer did not identify himself as a police officer so my client ran from the area," Aylor said."Mr. Cannon was doing nothing wrong. I have no doubt that when SLED gathers all the facts; they will find that my client did nothing illegal."
The arrest happened last Wednesday afternoon near the railroad tracks at Remount Road and Dakota Street. According to an incident report, two North Charleston Police Department officers were patrolling the area when they saw James Cannon sitting on the railroad track, rolling what appeared to be a marijuana cigarette.
North Charleston Deputy Chief Scott Deckard said both officers were wearing their operation uniform, which is an embroidered polo shirt and cargo pants.
The report states the officers called out to the suspect to get off the railroad tracks, and Cannon began walking away. After he was told to stop, he began running away and made a right turn, continuing on Palm Street, near Tampa Road.
The officers said they continued to make verbal commands to Cannon, telling him to stop. Moments later, Cannon came out of a wooded area and began running towards the officer.
The report states the officer saw Cannon charging at him and swung at him with his right fist, but the officer took him down to the ground where a scuffle ensued.
The officer said Cannon continually tried to strike him as he attempted to put the cuffs on him. The other officer then also tried to restrain the suspect, and the two of them fell to the ground, according to the report.
The report states that the officer was only able to get one handcuff on Cannon, who began swinging his left hand, with the cuffs attached, as a weapon. The other officer said he then put his body weight on the suspect and kicked him to try and gain control of the situation.
As Cannon continued to struggle, that officer said he tried to punch the suspect in the face twice, but inadvertently struck Cannon's eye. Soon after, another officer arrived and they were able to subdue Cannon, who continued to resist, the report states.
When an officer asked Cannon why he ran and why he tried to punch him, the report states Cannon said, "[I] was smoking marijuana and did not want to go to jail."
While Cannon was being processed, field supervisors with the police department became concerned with the suspect's injuries and contacted the duty chief. Following an investigation, Chief Jon Zumalt contacted SLED and requested an independent investigation.
The two officers who made contact with Cannon have been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of SLED's investigation.
Aylor released the following statement on Monday:
"I'm pleased to know that SLED investigators will review the actions by two North Charleston police officers regarding the circumstances and arrest of Mr. Cannon," said Aylor. The first responding officer did not identify himself as a police officer so my client ran from the area.Mr. Cannon was doing nothing wrong. I have no doubt that when SLED gathers all the facts; they will find that my client did nothing illegal. I find it rather unusual that representatives from the North Charleston Police Department have contacted the Cannon family to offer their apologies.
As a former criminal prosecutor in the Ninth Judicial Circuit and now defense attorney, I routinely work with SLED on such investigations when they are questions of possible misconduct by law enforcement. I also find it unusual that the police officers did not charge my client with assaulting a police officer while resisting arrest based upon the story the two officers have provided."
Cannon was charged with trespassing on railroad property and resisting arrest. He was taken to Roper Northwoods Hospital for treatment.