SLED investigates encounter between off-duty CPD officer, woman

SLED investigates encounter between off-duty CPD officer, woman

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Officials with the Charleston Police Department say they have asked the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate an incident that occurred between an off-duty police officer and a woman.

According to CPD officials, the incident happened around 4 p.m. on January 25, 2015 between an off-duty Charleston Police officer and a female civilian in Brittlebank Park on Lockwood Boulevard.

SLED has been asked to conduct an investigation to determine if any criminal violations occurred during the encounter.

Police say the incident began as a verbal encounter and then escalated into a physical encounter between the off-duty officer and the civilian. The officer was off-duty and not in uniform at the time of the encounter, a police release states.

The request for SLED to investigate the matter resulted from an internal review of the incident by the department.

Officer John Chitwood, 27, has been placed on administrative leave without pay. He has been with the department since January 7, 2013.

At 4:05 p.m. on Jan. 25, two police officers responded to Brittlebank Park in reference to an altercation between an off-duty Charleston police officer and a woman.

A police report states the incident was called in by the officer's wife who was concerned for her husband's safety.

When officers arrived, they reported Chitwood was on top of a woman who was being held down "in a manner to suggest he was detaining until police arrival."

As officers approached, police say Chitwood disengaged from the woman and turned over the incident to the officers. The officers spoke to the woman who said she had just been pushed to the ground.

The woman was visibly upset and requested EMS to look over possible injuries she sustained.

The woman told one of the responding officers that a verbal altercation had occurred over Chitwood breaking and throwing a toy gun that Chitwood's son found near the playground.

According to the woman, the toy gun belonged to her son, and her son told her about the toy and pointed to Chitwood as the man who destroyed it.

The woman said she became upset with the toy being thrown out, confronted Chitwood and told him that she would be contacting the police about the incident.

A Charleston Police Department report states that Chitwood said he would be doing the same, and in an effort to ensure that he had the woman's information so that a report could be properly processed, he followed the woman to her vehicle in an attempt to get her license plate so that if she attempted to leave the area before on-duty officers arrived he would have her information for the report.

According to police, when the woman saw Chitwood approaching her vehicle, she used her body to shield the license plate in an attempt to hinder his investigation, and said she would not let him see her license plate.

Authorities say as the woman shielded her license plate, Chitwood announced he was a police officer and told her she was hindering his ability to properly record information for a report.

The woman told police "well we did what we did" and said she was thrown to the ground by Chitwood where she was held down by the officer's knee.

Police say the woman had a "minor bit of swelling" on her left eye, was cleared by EMS and refused any treatment for the swelling.

The CPD report states Chitwood received minor scratches on his neck, left side of his face and left elbow. He was checked and cleared by EMS.

Officers from CPD crime scene also responded to the scene and photographed both Chitwood and the woman's injuries.

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