Charleston Co. deputy shot in line of duty sues apartment complex where it happened

Deputy Michael Ackerman (Source: Charleston County Sheriff's Office)
Deputy Michael Ackerman (Source: Charleston County Sheriff's Office)
Deputy Joseph Matuskovic (Source: Charleston Co. Sheriff's Office)
Deputy Joseph Matuskovic (Source: Charleston Co. Sheriff's Office)

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County deputy Michael Ackerman was wounded and another deputy killed in 2014 while responding to a call at a West Ashley apartment complex. Now Ackerman is suing the complex for negligence.

Filed in August, the suit alleges The Gardens at Ashley River Apartments failed to maintain a safe and secure premises. Notably, it says the complex knew that suspect Michael Oswald had a pattern of erratic behavior and the deputies were not informed of his tendencies before trying to confront him.

On the night of Sept. 8, 2014, courtesy officers which the suit claims were employed by the complex believed Oswald had barricaded himself in his apartment after a noise complaint. The property manager then called police to have uniform officers arrest Oswald. When Ackerman and fellow deputy Joe Matuskovic responded to the complex, they knew the plan was to arrest Oswald, according to the lawsuit.

The suit alleges Oswald had been "forewarned" of efforts to calm him down and therefore was waiting with loaded guns and ammunition for the uniformed deputies.

When deputies attempted to open the door, Oswald shot a semi-automatic AK-47 through the door killing Matuskovic and wounding Ackerman, who then killed Oswald, the suit states.

Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon said the rounds Oswald fired pierced the soft body armor Matuskovic was wearing. Matuskovic, 43, died at 8:37 p.m. that evening at MUSC, Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten said.

Other complaints in the lawsuit include the complex not using the courtesy officer program properly and allowing Oswald to continue to live at the complex after repeated violations of the rules and regulations.

Among the damages, Ackerman says the injury from the gunshot wound  has not allowed him to return to full-time duty as a patrol officer and he has been "relegated" to duty as a training officer only.

Matuskovic was hired by the sheriff's office in 2011. Prior to that, from 1997 to 2011, he worked with the Charleston Police Department, according to Charleston County Asst. Sheriff Mitch Lucas. Matuskovic was a negotiator and a field trainer, a position Lucas said was reserved for the best among law enforcement officers.

While the incident was ongoing, a Charleston County employee who responded to the scene in an support capacity fell ill and later died. Larry Britton, 58, worked with the radio shop and was serving the responding law enforcement officers when he died of natural causes, Wooten said. Charleston County Director of Radio Communications Bill Tunick said Britton went to the scene to help the sheriff's office and joint command. He suffered from an apparent heart complication and was taken to MUSC by EMS.

The full lawsuit can be viewed here.

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