WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCSC) - A lawsuit has been filed against the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office for a crash that killed a motorist and a deputy in West Ashley.
Representatives for Kwamane Terrence Mitchell are suing the sheriff’s office for wrongful death and gross negligence in the April 13, 2020 collision that happened on Highway 17 which also took the life of Deputy Jeremy Ladue.
Officials with the South Carolina Highway Patrol’s Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team reported that Mitchell was traveling 93 mph, in a 45 mph posted zone, seconds before the crash.
In addition, investigators say Mitchell was driving under the influence. An alcohol and drug blood test administered to Mitchell showed a Blood Alcohol Content of .15, according to the traffic collision report form.
Lawyers representing Mitchell’s family said that both Ladue and Mitchell’s vehicles were traveling north on Savannah Highway, with Mitchell in the center lane, and Ladue traveling ahead on the far right lane.
According to the suit, as Ladue was attempting to make a U-turn, he crossed the center lane in which Mitchell’s vehicle was traveling and caused a collision. The lawsuit states that Ladue did not have his emergency lights or equipment on.
The suit also states surveillance video recorded by a nearby business captured the moment of the crash. The video, court documents state, show that LaDue’s emergency lights and sirens were not on and that he did not use a turn signal before making the U-turn.
Family attorneys said Mitchell had full control of his vehicle before the crash happened.
Mitchell’s family released a statement on the suit:
“We feel that this lawsuit is important because of the mere fact that this incident did not have to occur. Deputy LaDue made a decision to make an illegal U-turn, which caused this collision. He wasn’t in hot pursuit. He wasn’t responding to a call. He just decided to turn around in the middle of the road. Charleston County and the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office must be held accountable for Deputy LaDue’s actions. We all know that if the tables were turned and if Kwamane had made an illegal U-turn from the right lane and caused this accident, he would rightfully have been blamed. His fault would have been broadcast far and wide for all to see. The truth is that Kwamane did not cause this accident, and the fact that the sole responsible party is not being held accountable just demonstrates the double standard that we have seen in so many other places. Thank God for the surveillance video footage which shows what really happened that morning. Once again, video is going to be used to hold officers accountable, and our prayer is that justice will be served.”