Family of 3 killed in deputy-involved crash demands justice, accountability

Attorneys representing the family of a mother and her two daughters who died in a Mother’s Day 2022 crash involving a Charleston County deputy.
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 10:08 AM EDT|Updated: May. 17, 2023 at 8:52 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Attorneys representing the family of a mother and her two daughters who died in a Mother’s Day 2022 crash involving a Charleston County deputy say it’s time for accountability.

Stephanie Dantzler, 53, and her daughters Shanice, 28, and Miranda Dantzler-Williams, 22, died on the night of May 8, 2022, when their vehicle was struck on Highway 17 by a Charleston County Sheriff’s vehicle driven by Deputy Emily Pelletier.

The family of the victims has filed a lawsuit that named Pelletier, fellow Charleston County Deputy Clinton Sacks, the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office and Charleston County, alleging negligence, carelessness and recklessness they believed caused the crash.

READ MORE: Lawsuit: Deputy ‘raced’ with senior deputy before crash that killed 3 women

Attorneys Marvin Pendarvis and Richard Hricik represent Randall Williams, Shanice and Miranda’s father; and attorney Clifford Bush III is representing Betty R. Simmons, the mother of Stephanie Dantzler and grandmother to Shanice and Miranda Dantzler-Williams.

“Here’s what we know as fact, as the records and GPS data speak for themselves. Pelletier’s training record was riddled with problems. She struggled with geography. She struggled with her driving yet was always given an acceptable grade,” Hricik said. “She was promoted to the field without further supervision. Her post-promotion data shows she deviated from the dispatch-provided driving instructions over 100 times in the six months that followed over and over. And the investigation into that fatal Mother’s Day crash was flawed and limited from its very start.”

They claim GPS data obtained from the county vehicles that night showed “by the minute, and in some cases by the seconds,” how two Charleston County deputies who traveled “at outrageous and dangerous speeds over 15 minutes contributed to this fatal crash.”

A mother and her two daughters died on May 8, 2022, in a crash involving a Charleston County deputy.

Simmons had harsh words for Pelletier and the sheriff’s office.

“They’re supposed to be protecting them, not taking their life, and that’s what they did. That was just like murder. You can just give them a pistol and she could just go ahead and shoot them, it was as simple as that,” Simmons said. “All this could have been preventable if they checked her driving record and not give her a car for a weapon.”

Pendarvis criticized what he called a history and culture of “dangerous deputy driving” that goes back to current Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano’s predecessor, former Sheriff Al Cannon. He cited multiple incidents dating back to 2015 involving accidents with deputies.

“It was not time for Stephanie and her daughters, Shanice and Miranda to die. It was not their time. But it is time: It’s time for Charleston County and the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office to take responsibility,” he said. “It’s not time to put these families through more, through more needless litigation when all the facts are known.”

The lawsuit requests a jury hearing.

One month following the wreck, the Sheriff’s Office fired Pelletier from the department and charged her with three counts of reckless homicide. Her criminal case is still pending.

Sacks voluntarily resigned from the department last Friday. The Sheriff’s Office confirmed Monday that Sacks no longer works for the department and had not been disciplined for any actions related to the night of May 8.

Charleston County spokesperson Kelsey Barlow stated that the county “does not comment on ongoing litigation.”

The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office also declined to provide a comment citing the pending lawsuit.