DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division arrested a St. George town council member Tuesday who is accused of assaulting and threatening a town police officer in June.
Ralph Martino, 66, faces a charge of misconduct in office, according to SLED spokesman Tommy Crosby. Investigators claim Martino used his position as a town councilman “to harass and/or intimidate” a St. George Police officer and then threatened to terminate the officer who was executing and performing duties as a St. George Police officer.
The charge stems from an incident on June 1 in which St. George Police Chief Brett Camp said officers stopped Martino’s wife. Camp said officers were looking for her because of an alleged altercation at a McDonald’s location.
Camp said Martino arrived and began to ask the officer questions, and became agitated and impatient while waiting for a second officer to arrive. As the officer was getting out of the patrol car, he asked Martino to back up, Camp said. Martino then yelled, "Are you going to shoot me, “mother******?” according to Camp.
Police said as the officer went to detain him, Martino pushed the officer in the chest and the officer lost his balance.
An affidavit states that after a brief struggle, the officer was able to detain Martino, who made derogatory and disparaging statements to the officer. Investigators say Martino threatened the officer’s employment with the town of St. George, claimed the officer had “lost his mind” for arresting a councilman, and said he would ensure he was placed on a police oversight committee to investigate the officer. Martino warned the officer he would “be on your ass,” the affidavit states.
Martino has been charged with third degree assault and battery at the time of the incident, Camp said.
Martino was booked into the Dorchester County Detention Center Tuesday.