FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – The National Action Network is asking the Florence County Sheriff’s Office to reopen the investigation into allegations of excessive force during an arrest earlier this year.
The group held a press conference Friday morning outside the department’s headquarters to publicly ask interim Sheriff William “Billy” Barnes to not only look into the matter himself, but also contact the State Law Enforcement Division and have them conduct their own investigation.
“We’re asking that the new acting Sheriff Mr. Barnes also (ask) SLED to do the investigation. We know that SLED is an independent organization and we felt that this department itself cannot properly investigate themselves,” said Elder James Johnson.
Tyler Fleming alleges on Feb. 17, deputies slammed him to the ground and placed him in an illegal chokehold.
“I still haven’t been able to recover fully," Fleming said Friday. "My mental status is a very shaky right now. I’m still traumatized since that day and it’s cost me time, cost me money and everything, and I’m ... it really put a hold on my life.”
The Florence County Sheriff’s Office said deputies acted appropriately, claiming Fleming resisted arrest and threatened to kill officers while they ran his information. He was charged with breach of peace, resisting arrest and threatening the life of public employees.
The National Action Network’s request comes just days after Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone was indicted by a state grand jury on charges of misconduct in office and embezzlement.
Gov. Henry McMaster appointed Barnes as interim sheriff. He will serve until Boone is “acquitted, convicted, the indictment is otherwise disposed of, or until a sheriff is elected and qualifies in the next general election,” a press release stated.