Man says off-duty officer assaulted him, accused him of slashing tires

Attorney claims it’s a case of mistaken identity
A September 2020 night escalated quickly, a North Charleston man claims, after a police officer woke him up, accused him of slashing his tires and beat him up.
Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 4:27 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 10, 2022 at 10:16 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A normal September night in 2020 escalated quickly, a North Charleston man claims in a lawsuit, after a police officer woke him up, accused him of slashing his patrol car’s tires, pulled him to the street and beat him up.

A lawsuit filed in Charleston County in February of 2021 recounts the incident, which happened around 3 a.m. on Sept. 19, 2020. The situation spiraled after off-duty Moncks Corner Police Officer Antwan Richardson found his patrol car’s tires slashed and accused 38-year-old Brett Funderburk, who lived across the street, according to the suit.

Funderburk, who was 36 at the time, says he’s still recovering from the trauma.

“Any time I think about it, it could turn into a panic attack,” Funderburk says.

Court documents allege Richardson had just finished his duty working as security at a football game in Moncks Corner that night. He had been with the department for about nine months at the time but had been a law enforcement officer, however, for about nine years total.

Richardson says in a deposition he had gone to play a game of cards at a friend’s house in North Charleston – the neighborhood where Funderburk still lives.

Funderburk says he was having a casual night, drinking a few beers and working on his truck, a pastime he enjoys often.

Court documents go on to state Funderburk had gone over to that same house earlier in the night to ask the owner to not call the police on him during a birthday party he had planned for the following night. Reports claim Funderburk had made a derogatory comment about police during that interaction. Funderburk’s lawyer, Jason Stevens, says that made accusing him of slashing the tires even easier. Stevens goes on to say, however, it’s all a big misunderstanding.

“It was a case of either mistaken identity, or he believed that my client did something that my client didn’t do,” Stevens says. “We’re still unclear at this point.”

Richardson’s deposition in the case, Stevens says, doesn’t line up with what was caught on Funderburk’s doorbell camera.

“He said that there was no contact made on the front porch or any time prior to my client exiting his yard,” Stevens says. “Which clearly is not the case.”

A still from doorbell camera footage included in the lawsuit shows the moment Richardson led...
A still from doorbell camera footage included in the lawsuit shows the moment Richardson led Funderburk off the front porch, an apparent contradiction with Richardson's deposition in which he stated no contact was made on Funderburk's front porch.(Brett Funderburk)

After Richardson, who was off-duty, led Funderburk off the front porch, the altercation turned physical, the suit alleges. Court documents state Richardson presented himself as an officer, despite being off duty.

“He had state-issued handcuffs, and he had a state-issued flashlight that he used when he was working,” Stevens says. “He was [also] wearing parts of his state-issued uniform.”

The lawsuit alleges Richardson used the handcuffs to hold Funderburk down and the “mag-light” to beat him.

Funderburk says it haunts him to this day.

“I have constant anxiety [about the altercation],” Funderburk says. “Living where it happened in my yard and the guy across the street and having to see the house every day … My wife and I want to move.”

After North Charleston police responded to the incident, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division was called in to investigate, as is common with officer-involved incidents. A 43-page investigative report from the agency says neither Funderburk nor Richardson would be charged for assault.

In regard to the slashed tires, Funderburk continues to deny the vandalism.

The SLED report details how Officer Richardson got angrier with the situation as Funderburk denied the vandalism. As Richardson became more aggressive, reports say that Funderburk made statements that could indicate he may have slashed the tires, but according to the same investigative report, there’s no other evidence to support it, and Funderburk would not be charged with vandalism.

Funderburk says he was drunk and nearly comatose when his doorbell rang, and it wasn’t until the next morning that he watched what happened.

“Basically, I woke up, just, beat up with no knowledge of why,” Funderburk says.

The SLED report details Funderburk’s cuts and injuries following the altercation. The lawsuit claims those injuries, including a concussion and the mental anguish, are a direct result of the alleged attack, and the thousands of dollars in medical bills continue to pile up.

“The CT scans and all that are very expensive,” Funderburk says. “I went to a psychiatrist, and they put me on anti-depressants because I wasn’t able to properly go to work. I went to a therapist to try and keep from having panic attacks.”

Funderburk’s attorney says at the time of the altercation, Officer Richardson also forcefully grabbed Funderburk by the groin to get him on the ground. According to the suit, this was “nonconsensual and offensive touching.” Officer Richardson later admitted to the act in affidavits.

“I mean, it’s just not right that an officer can do that when they’re supposed to do the opposite and protect us,” Funderburk says.

“In my 15 years of experience of practicing plaintiffs and criminal defense law, I have never seen an officer act in this manner,” Stevens says. “Right now, the case stands in that we’re waiting for our day in court. We’ve taken depositions of the officer, and they’ve taken depositions of my client.”

Meanwhile, there’s an unpaid invoice for the slashed tires, which Funderburk and his lawyer say they are not paying because Funderburk says he didn’t do it. The truth, his lawyer says, will come out in court.

Funderburk is suing the Town of Moncks Corner, the Moncks Corner Police Department and Richardson for several allegations of negligence and assault and battery.

Both the Town of Moncks Corner and the Moncks Corner Police Department declined to comment citing the pending litigation.

Officials with Moncks Corner Police say Richardson is still employed by the department.