Police: Rap video threatens SC judge, former assistant solicitor, leads to arrests

The (Sumter) ItemJanuary 17, 2013 

MANNING, SC – A YouTube rap video outlining what authorities say are physical threats made against a local judge and former assistant solicitor has led to the arrest of two Manning men.

Lyrics aimed at 3rd Circuit Court Judge Ferrell Cothran and former 3rd Circuit Assistant Solicitor Amy Land can be heard on the video as the two suspects rap in front of up to a dozen other men.

“Amy Land and Ferrell Cothran you’ll find your brains on the boulevard,” is rapped in part of the video.

The video also references gangs running the town, prostitution and drugs.

“Bloods, Crips and folks. We run the town. I got the crown, so Homie don’t get smoked,” is repeated throughout the video. “You’re gonna leave here in an ambulance. ... stuck in the ground with a bullet in your throat.”

Clarendon County Sheriff Randy Garrett sees the arrests as an effort to clamp down on gangs and related illegal activity. Those in the video appear to be wearing similarly colored clothing with symbols, considered characteristics of a gang.

“We meant business,” Garrett said. “The warrants were signed, and five minutes later they were in custody. We are sending out a message. We will not tolerate it. We have a zero tolerance for gangs and their crimes.”

But attorney Shaun Kent, who is representing one of the suspects, says the rap lyrics are self-expression covered under the First Amendment. The lyrics, he said, are being misinterpreted and were not meant as threats.

Keith Allen Norman Gadson, 25, and Rodregiz Antwon Cole, 28, both of Manning, were each charged with one count of threatening life, person or family of public official (a solicitor) and one count of intimidation of court officials (a judge).

Garrett said Clarendon County investigators were investigating a Jan. 6 assault at an area Huddle House when they became aware of the music video that was posted to YouTube on Dec. 21, 2012. “Our investigation is continuing,” Garrett added. “We will not tolerate gangs. More arrests of those in the video could follow.”

Gadson was also charged with one count of armed robbery and one count of second-degree assault by mob in the Jan. 6 incident at the Huddle House in which officers said a man was ambushed and beaten with metal knuckles in the parking lot. It was unclear late Wednesday whether Gadson has an attorney. Kent, who represents Cole, said his client was being creative when he substituted the names of the only two judges he knew with the nickname for a Taurus handgun. The weapon is commonly referred to as “The Judge,” he noted.

“In an effort to be clever, he has found himself incarcerated,” Kent said Wednesday morning. “Mr. Cole’s lyrics in no way were intended in the negative light they are currently being cast.”

Kent said his client wants the public to know that “his message is simply being misinterpreted” and that the video “is not a threat.”

Gadson and Cole were arrested at 4 p.m. Monday and transported to Clarendon County Detention Center where a Clarendon County magistrate denied bond for both. The pair remained in jail Wednesday.

Garrett said the Manning Police Department and the State Law Enforcement Division assisted in making the arrests.

In the Huddle House incident, Michael Edward Parker, 24, of Manning also was arrested. He is charged with armed robbery and second-degree assault by mob. Clarendon County officials are looking for a third individual they think was involved. Investigations related to the video and Huddle House beating are continuing.

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