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A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Aiken SC newspaper squeals like a wounded pig when the story of the bad cop becomes public

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Because it turns out that it’s not just a bad cop, it’s also an incompetent and/or dysfunctional city government and a local newspaper that is so defensive that it’s painful. Radley Balko reports in the Washington Post:

About 10 days ago, I first reported about the traffic stop and apparent cavity search involving a black couple in Aiken, S.C. The story has since taken off and spurred some interesting reaction back in Aiken.

When I first asked Aiken Department of Public Safety Capt. David Turno about the incident, he told me that it had been investigated and that Officer Chris Medlin and the other officers remained on the police force.

After the story went viral, however, the city placed three of the four officers involved on “administrative reassignment” (the other officer has since retired), pending an investigation. The city also plans to hire an “outside group” to conduct that investigation. Additionally, the city announced that all officers in the department would be taking racial sensitivity training and city officials made a public commitment to making the police force more diverse.According to the Aiken Standard, the city also passed an emergency bill to set up a citizens review board to look at complaints against local police. The paper notes that the board was set up in direct response to the fallout from the story. The story was also the subject of a town hall meeting sponsored by state and local racial-justice groups.

Contrary to what Turno told me, city officials did not know about the lawsuit.Or if they did, they’re not admitting it.

Aiken City Manager John Klimm said Wednesday he was never made aware of the lawsuit service from a suit that says four Aiken police officers unconstitutionally searched two county residents on the side of the road in 2014.

An affidavit of service was hand delivered to the city on Oct. 22, 2015 at 2:59 p.m., court records show.

According to the affidavit, Sara Ridout, the city’s longtime clerk, who signed off on the service, is stated in the affidavit as authorized to accept the service.

On Wednesday, Klimm said he was never aware of the affidavit, and Ridout, who receives legal documents regularly, has no memory of the affidavit coming to the city.

Klimm added Ridout routinely passes legal documents on to the parties of interest, which Klimm said in this case could have been Aiken Public Safety Chief Charles Barranco or the staff member who handles the city’s insurance.

Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon says he first learned of the lawsuit on Facebook.

The city’s apparent ignorance of the lawsuit aside, the measures taken by the city council seem to be positive and productive. But at the same time that the city is investigating the officers, it’s also defending them. The Aiken Department of Public Safety continues to insist that the traffic stop and searches were all legal. And an unnamed source at the agency told the Aiken Daily Standard that it was Elijah Pontoon, not Officer Chris Medlin, who is heard on the recording saying, “You gonna pay for this one, boy.”

That seems unlikely. For one, it doesn’t sound like Pontoon. It sounds like Medlin. Of course, the audio isn’t all that great, so it’s difficult to say for sure. But there are other indicators. Pontoon is polite throughout the stop. He does at a couple points call the stop harassment. Given that neither he nor Lakeya Hicks had committed even a traffic violation, much less a crime, he had a point. It’s also just difficult to imagine a young black man who to that point had been polite referring to an armed, white cop as “boy.” Hicks and Pontoon also allege in their lawsuit that it was Medlin who made the comment. Given that the lawsuit itself doesn’t allege racial discrimination, it’s difficult to see why Pontoon would make that comment, then lie about it later. . .

Continue reading.

And do read the whole thing. The response from the local newspaper is astonishing.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 April 2016 at 10:45 am

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