In a surprise move Monday morning, the city of Columbia dropped all three charges against S.C. NAACP president Lonnie Randolph minutes before his trial in city court was supposed to begin.
The charges in the trial stemmed from an incident last July in which Randolph, apparently suffering from a diabetic condition, became confused in a Five Points dry cleaners and caused a disturbance that brought police.
After municipal Judge Steedley Bogan announced in court that the city had decided to drop the charges, Randolph’s lawyer, Joe McCulloch held a press conference in which he said he was “disgusted” with city attorneys for getting the case almost to trial and then dropping it.
According to a letter revealed in court, the city’s main witness – Tripp’s Dry Cleaners, where the disturbance had taken place – had decided in early December not to go forward with the case.
Randolph was charged with trespassing after notice, public disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Under South Carolina law, if a person is suffering from a medical condition that disturbs their ability to reason, they cannot be charged with a crime because they could not formulate the intent to commit that crime.
McCulloch said if the case had ever gotten to a jury, it almost certainly would have taken the jurors less than a minute to return a verdict for Randolph.
Randolph faced a maximum of 90 days in jail -- 30 days on each charge.