NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) - The National Action Network held a news conference Thursday to discuss the former North Charleston police officer facing assault and battery charges from an arrest last year.
Elder James Johnson, the president of the South Carolina Chapter of the National Action Network, began the news conference by commending the North Charleston Police Department for passing the investigation to the State Law Enforcement Division.
SLED agents arrested Leroy Hair Wednesday on a charge of third-degree assault and battery, SLED spokesman Thom Berry said. Hair is accused of punching a man several times while he was handcuffed in the back of his police cruiser in December. Officers said the man, James Terry III, was combative as they tried to apprehend him.
"The arrest of the former North Charleston police officer, Mr. Leroy Hair, for punching Mr. James Terry, sent a strong message to all, and I repeat, all, law enforcement in the Tri-County and the state," he said. "NAN, the NAACP and the Coalition will not sit back and allow police brutality in Charleston and over the state anymore."
Johnson said they hope Hair receives the maximum sentence allowed by law.
Representatives of the three groups insisted they were not attacking all police officers.
"This is an endorsement for the individuals who did the correct thing, the police department that did the correct thing in order to conduct the investigation," NAACP North Charleston Chapter President Ed Bryant said. "We've had hundreds of SLED investigations across the state of South Carolina. Very few times, very few times, have we had [SLED] come in and indict a police officer in this state. This represents a change. That change is commended, that change is commended, because they are seeking fairness, justice and equality across the land."