CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A former police officer is suing the City of North Charleston for wrongful termination and claiming that a fellow officer had vandalized a department issued flashlight with racist symbols.
Attorneys for Leroy Walter Hair Jr. have filed suit against the city, Mayor Keith Summey, the attorney general’s office and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
The filing of the suit stems from an incident on Nov. 15, 2016, when Hair participated in the arrest of James Terry III.
According to Hair’s attorneys, their client was subsequently fired from the police department and later prosecuted for using excessive force against Terry due to Terry’s false allegations that he sustained a black eye from Hair.
Hair was later found innocent on charges that he assaulted Terry, court documents state.
The suit states Terry was stopped and arrested for driving 76 mph in a 35 mph zone and became physically and verbally combative upon his arrest, and reported he had suffered a black eye from a North Charleston police officer.
According to attorneys, North Charleston police falsely concluded that Hair had given Terry the black eye and subsequently fired him and stated Hair had used excessive force against Terry and falsely implied that Hair had given Terry a black eye.
The lawsuit states that Terry became combative and police attempted to control him with officers striking the suspect with flashlights in order to subdue him.
During the struggle, Terry kicked and kneed Hair in the head, court records state.
Lawyers also cited an incident on Dec. 2, 2016 when police were inventorying Hair’s patrol cruiser and discovered an NCPD flashlight with the words “The Wig Splitter” and a Nazi “SS” rune symbol etched into the metal body of the flashlight.
“The Wig Splitter did not belong to Hair and was not assigned to his cruiser,” the lawsuit states. “The very existence of the Wig Splitter corroborates the inherent truth of the negative public image and media coverage of the City and NCPD, regarding its racial discrimination and excessive use of force.”
Lawyers say they believe another officer vandalized the equipment with Nazi runes.