Attorney says man unlawfully tased at Charleston County jail
CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - New video has been released of a man being tased at the Charleston County Detention Center. William Weaver was arrested by North Charleston Police on May 28, 2021, for allegedly driving under the influence.
The video starts with Weaver sitting in a chair in the Breath Analyzer room. He asks several questions and requests a lawyer. After about 20 minutes, things begin to escalate in the room.
“They instigate and escalate this incident,” Weaver’s attorney Edward Phipps said of the officers in the room. “You’ll see Mr. Weaver succumb to what I call a mental crisis.”
According to officials with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, Weaver was brought to the detention center by North Charleston police officers, and detention deputies were called to a room at the facility after Weaver struggled with police officers who tried to handcuff him. CCSO officials say detention deputies directed Weaver to comply, but they say he refused and acted aggressively.
“After the detention deputies tried for more than 14 minutes to negotiate a non-confrontational resolution, ERT Operator James Breaux deployed his Taser,” CCSO officials said. “Seels-Weaver fell to the floor, but he continued to struggle as detention deputies tried to restrain him. After a second charge from Breaux’s Taser, he was handcuffed.”
The sheriff’s office said medical staff responded to evaluate Weaver who was taken to a hospital for treatment, and was later returned to the facility for booking.
Phipps says Weaver asked for help more than 60 times, and on several occasions, he asks the officers to shoot or kill him.
“He’s under a lot of distress and going through an extreme mental crisis,” Phipps said.
According to the incident report released by the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, the Emergency Response Team Operator was called into the room. He asks Weaver to turn around and to go down to his knees, but Weaver “refused to comply” so the operator fired his taser.
Weaver falls to the ground and breaks his arm as a result. Weaver also suffered a concussion in the fall. He was transported to Trident Medical Center.
Weaver’s attorneys say the incident in the detention center should’ve been handled by mental health experts, but he is now left with potentially permanent injuries. Phipps said Weaver now suffers from constant headaches and PTSD because of the fall, and he adds that this all could’ve been prevented had mental health experts been called into the room.
The sheriff’s office said an internal investigation into the incident deemed that the use of force was reasonable and necessary based on Weaver’s behavior.
“It was appropriate to ensure the safety of those involved, including Seels-Weaver,” CCSO officials said. “Breaux resigned from the Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 14 to seek employment elsewhere. He had been employed as a detention deputy since November 2007.”
The incident happened days after Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano made a promise for change in the midst of the death of another man, Jamal Sutherland, who was tased in the same jail.
The North Charleston Police Department declined a comment.
The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement:
Around 6 p.m. May 28, 2021, William Seels-Weaver was brought to SLED’s Data Master Room at the Detention Center by the North Charleston Police Department prior to booking. This is where law enforcement officers collect breath samples in DUI investigations. Detention deputies, including members of the Emergency Response Team, were called to the room after Seels-Weaver struggled with three North Charleston police officers who tried to handcuff him.
Detention deputies directed Seels-Weaver to comply. He refused and acted aggressively. After the detention deputies tried for more than 14 minutes to negotiate a non-confrontational resolution, ERT Operator James Breaux deployed his Taser. Seels-Weaver fell to the floor, but he continued to struggle as detention deputies tried to restrain him. After a second charge from Breaux’s Taser, he was handcuffed. Medical staff responded to evaluate Seels-Weaver, who was taken to a hospital for treatment. He was later returned to the facility for booking.
An internal investigation deemed that the use of force was reasonable and necessary based on Seels-Weaver’s behavior. It was appropriate to ensure the safety of those involved, including Seels-Weaver.
Breaux resigned from the Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 14 to seek employment elsewhere. He had been employed as a detention deputy since November 2007.
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