Rep. Justin Bamberg is proposing the State Law Enforcement Division investigate potential felonies committed by local police after a woman was allegedly assaulted sexually by a deputy.
An impartial source should conduct the probe of alleged felonies committed by any deputy or municipal police officer, said Bamberg, a Democrat who represents Bamberg, Barnwell and Colleton counties.
SLED already investigates all officer-involved shootings for all law enforcement agencies except for the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
“It is a good idea for SLED to get involved and investigate those matters so that we don’t have police policing their own,” Bamberg said. “It would go a long way to rebuilding the public’s trust.”
Bamberg, an attorney, represents the family of Walter Scott, a black motorist who was shot and killed while fleeing from a North Charleston Police Officer during a traffic stop on April 4, 2015. The officer, Michael Slager, was fired and charged with murder, with his trial scheduled to start Oct. 31.
The Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office asked SLED to investigate an officer-involved incident, said SLED spokesman Thom Berry, who could not provide additional details in an ongoing probe.
Bamberg said the woman was assaulted on June 12 when two Orangeburg County deputies responded to a domestic incident at her home.
One deputy questioned her while another spoke to her boyfriend outside, he said.
An unidentified deputy allegedly assaulted the woman to prevent her boyfriend from being arrested, Bamberg said. The deputy hasbeen fired, Sheriff Leroy Ravenell said.
“We have asked the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to conduct an investigation rather than this agency to avoid any sense of impropriety,” Ravenell said.
Bamberg acknowledged that having SLED handle such matters could mean hiring more agents.