A Pickens County deputy was fired after using a taser on a 65-year-old wheelchair-bound Pickens man whose son was being arrested at his home, Sheriff Rick Clark said Friday.
An internal investigation of the Feb. 20 incident led to Deputy Steven A. Ticknor being fired on Wednesday for the inappropriate use of a taser.
Deputies were trying to arrest Travis Antonio Mansell, 25, the son of the man in the wheelchair. Mansell, deputies said, had told them they would have to kill him to arrest him, according to a statement released by Chief Deputy Creed Hashe.
Deputies made the arrest at 805 W. Lee St., Pickens, in serving bench warrants for the Pickens Police Department, and the internal investigation of the incident determined that the use of a taser by another deputy, to apprehend Mansell, was appropriate.
Mansell, who relatives said suffers from mental illness, is being held at the Pickens County Detention Center on bench warrants for failing to appear in court on charges of possession of stolen goods, resisting arrest and driving under suspension. He also was charged by Pickens County deputies with resisting arrest and possession of cocaine.
Parker Mansell Jr., father of the man who was arrested, said deputies also tased him, twice, and threw him out of his wheelchair, causing him to cut his foot.
“I’ve been in this wheelchair for 17 years, I’ve had a stroke and I’m a bad diabetic,” he said.
He said his son was tased twice.
According to the Sheriff’s Office statement, three deputies, accompanied by a Pickens city police officer, went to Mansell’s home to serve the bench warrants and could see him through a window hiding as they tried to get someone to answer the door.
“A female who identified herself as Lanie A. Davis, girlfriend of Travis Mansell, answered the door and informed the deputies that Mansell was not inside the residence,” the statement says.
The officers entered the home, and “Travis Mansell immediately informed the deputies that he would not go back to jail and that the deputies would ‘have to kill him.’
“Additional units were requested as deputies attempted to verbally persuade Travis to surrender without further incident. Several minutes passed as the deputies pleaded with Mansell to peacefully surrender,” according to the statement.
The senior Mansell was in a motorized wheelchair and “proceeded to position himself while seated in the wheelchair between the deputies and Travis with the intent to block or impede the deputies from gaining access to his son,” the statement says.
“After 15 to 20 minutes of dialog with the wanted subject, the deputies utilized a less-lethal Taser device to momentarily incapacitate Travis Mansell so that the deputies could approach and restrain him without the use of additional force,” according to the statement.
He was arrested and restrained “with no additional use of force and no injuries were sustained to Mansell or the deputies.”
“Following the deployment of the Taser unit to Travis Mansell, seconds later a backup deputy chose to use his Taser on the father seated in the wheelchair,” according to the statement. “The deputy advised that he felt the need to deploy the Taser on the father to prevent the father from injuring the deputies that were physically arresting the son.”
The sheriff started an internal investigation the next morning, according to the statement.
“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the incident, taking into account the number of officers on the scene, the overt resistance from the son, verbal threats to force officers to take his life coupled with the extensive efforts by the deputies to diffuse the encounter without the use of force, the investigation found the use of the Taser to Travis Mansell was in fact appropriate and reasonable given the circumstances,” the statement says.
“The second deployment of the Taser against Parker Mansell Jr. was determined to be inappropriate and not within the scope of Pickens County policy.”
Clark said, “Parker Mansell did not follow the directions of the deputies and intentionally interfered with the lawful arrest of his son – Travis. He intentionally maneuvered himself via his chair into a position to impede and block the deputies from being able to take Travis into custody.
“The deputies worked through the situation and successfully found a way to restrain Travis through the deployment of a less-lethal device, which is the application that it is designed for. He was not injured and the deputies also were not injured. I commend our officers for their patience and restraint in how they attempted to negotiate with Travis.”
“The deployment of the Taser on the father – Parker Mansell Jr. was not within the scope of our policy when all factors are considered,” the sheriff said. “The father was confined to a wheelchair and was limited in mobility. Though he was verbally upset, he posed no significant danger to the deputies as he was unarmed and made no overt threats.
“The decision to use the Taser on Mr. Mansell Jr was inappropriate and not necessary to protect any party, nor was it necessary to the complete the arrest of Travis.”
Clark has requested the State Law Enforcement Division to do an external review of the case.
“It is unfortunate and disappointing in that one of our deputies chose to use a level of force that was not necessary and found to be unreasonable,” Clark said. “It is my hope that our community will see that we conduct our internal reviews seriously and with the upmost scrutiny for detail and policy compliance.
“The processes that we have in place have proven through this incident that we objectively review all Use of Force incidents whether it is the result of a citizen complaint or not. Upon learning of this situation, I mandated that a review of this incident be conducted before any complaint was ever filed by any of the parties involved.”
Parker Mansell and his son’s girlfriend gave a somewhat different account of the incident.
“Parker had parked his wheelchair in the kitchen hallway where they couldn’t really get through,” Davis, who said she is Travis Mansell's girlfriend, told The Greenville News. “And me and Travis and Parker was out there in the kitchen.
“I gave Travis a cigarette and I gave him some of my drink. By the time I gave him some of my drink and I turned around to set the cup back down they tased Travis.
“They said he was resisting arrest, and he wasn’t doing anything but standing in the kitchen,” she said.
“And all of a sudden they started trying to jump over Parker in the wheelchair, they were pushing him out of the way, so Parker was waving his arms trying to tell them to stop,” she said. “I just don’t get how the police officers can do something like that.”