Actions taken by a Benedict College police officer are being commended by the college’s chief of police after she made the split second decision to not use deadly force against a suspect who allegedly reached for a pellet gun he had in his waist Monday night.
Chief Haymond Bazemore said Staff Sgt. Charita Perkins practiced “perfect police discretion” as she questioned four individuals who were loitering in the campus’ community park.
Bazemore said an incident report filed with the police department revealed Perkins was responding to a suspicious activity call at 4:45 p.m. near a common location on campus associated individuals selling drugs to students.
After calling for backup, Perkins approached the four individuals comprised of two Benedict College students and two non-students, according to Bazmore. While interviewing the individuals, Perkins discovered that one of the individuals was in possession of marijuana and detained all the individuals in order to search them for more drugs.
That was when 20-year-old Devonte Anderson reached for a pellet gun that was concealed in his waistband, Bazemore said. Perkins ordered the individual to keep his hands up, but maintained her hand on her service weapon. Perkins never drew the weapon, according to the report.
Anderson was taken into custody and charged with carrying a firearm on school property and filing false information to law enforcement after he allegedly told officers his name was “Dominique Anderson” and wrote down a false birth date in a written statement.
Investigators confirmed Anderson’s identity after calling his mother.
Bazemore said because of Perkins experience and split-second decision making, the department was able to avoid a “Ferguson-like” incident, in which a white police officer was acquitted in the shooting death of a black teen sparking riots throughout the small Missouri town.
“It has to be a two-way street,” Bazemore said, meaning a suspect must comply with police commands in order to avoid the use of deadly force.
Bazemore said because of the officer’s training they were able to charge Anderson instead of using deadly force on him.
Anderson is being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center awaiting trial. A South Carolina Law Enforcement Division background check revealed he has been charged several times for failure to comply with police commands, providing false information and violation of parole.
In the incident report, Anderson allegedly told a transportation officer that he has been involved in several armed robberies involving students. Bazemore said Benedict College police are investigating the claims.