Goose Creek Police respond to lawsuit following 911 call response
GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCSC) - The Goose Creek Police Department is responding to a lawsuit filed against the city saying it’s an inaccurate representation of how things really happened.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Berkeley County states on July 2, 2022, several Goose Creek police officers arrived at the area of Vango Drive in Goose Creek and drew their guns and pointed them at kids. The lawsuit goes on to state, “It is unknown why the police were called or what threat was posed that would cause them to draw their guns on a yard full of children.”
The lawsuit states people were gathered at the house celebrating a graduation, but it quickly turned into a “horrific event.”
In response, Goose Creek Police Chief LJ Roscoe says guns were never pointed at children, and multiple angles of body camera footage shown to Live 5 News supports that claim. Soundbites from multiple moments in the footage also show officers explain why they were on scene.
Incident reports from that day provided to Live 5 state authorities responded to the area in reference to a 911 call about a fight happening in the middle of the road. The emergency call from a neighbor alerted authorities of the fight, according to the reports. The complaint states the neighbor saw “four females engaged in a verbal argument in the middle of the street…he observed one of the females wielding a handgun and waving it in the air.”
While Chief Roscoe tells us a gun was never recovered on the scene, a picture from the neighbor shows a suspect holding a gun in the middle of the street. By the time officers arrived on scene, Chief Roscoe says the suspect had left.
The suspect, later identified as Fantasia Simmons, was arrested about a month later and is facing two charges of Pointing and Presenting a Firearm at a person and one charge of Assault and Battery 3rd Degree from direct incidents related to that day.
The victims, a mother and daughter, say Simmons started to fight with them and pointed a gun at them both, according to an incident report. The mother victim initially stated she did not want to press charges on the suspect but later changed her mind, the report goes on to state.
In addition to the lawsuit’s claims of pointing guns at kids and not knowing why officers responded in such a manner, it also states the police department never responded to concerns from people who were at the house at the time of the incident.
In a formal complaint sent to Goose Creek Police provided to Live 5, Charon Harris, who is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit, says the police department used “unreasonable and excessive force.” She goes on to say, “the force and language used on the scene was deplorable.” Plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit the department never addressed this complaint, however, less than a week later, Goose Creek Police Captain Joshua Battista responded to the letter. He told Harris he had conducted an investigation into the complaint.
Battista states, “A thorough investigation was conducted in reference to your allegations against the officers named in your complaint. Upon completion of the investigation, it has been determined that your complaints are unfounded. The Chief of Police reviewed and accepted the investigation and findings as submitted. As such, this matter is closed.”
Battista acknowledges while one officer on scene used expletives including phrasing such as, “back the [expletive] up,” it was in response to an active fight and a loud verbal argument in the front of the house – a scene they were told involved someone who had a gun.
“When we get calls for guns, we have to respond a certain way,” an officer on scene tells people at the party, according to body camera footage.
Shortly after officers arrived on scene with weapons drawn, not pointed at children, Chief Roscoe says officers put their weapons away, and body camera footage also supports that claim.
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