A Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue firefighter has been suspended after he was charged on Sunday with impersonating a police officer. Witnesses said he walked around a Hilton Head restaurant asking women to show him their identification.
Dominic Socie, 33, was taken to the Beaufort County Detention Center on Sunday and released the same day after he posted bail on a $5,000 bond, according to detention center and Beaufort County Court records.
The charge is in connection with an incident reported on Aug. 1 at Big Bamboo Cafe, according to a Sheriff’s Office report.
A deputy responded to the restaurant around 1:30 a.m. after a caller who identified himself as Socie told a dispatcher he was a bartender and needed assistance removing underage customers.
When a deputy arrived, the business was closing, and security officials were ushering occupants out. The deputy noted in the report that he did not observe any underage customers.
The deputy asked four security officials about the call, and all denied placing it. The four also did not know of a bartender named Dominic Socie.
Around that time, the deputy saw Socie, whom he recognized as a firefighter.
Socie told the deputy that he had called the Sheriff’s Office because he had an issue with his bar bill. He said everything had been corrected and he no longer needed assistance. Socie then left the establishment, the report said.
After Socie left, a security official told the deputy that Socie had been checking the identification of women on the patio earlier that evening and requested that the Sheriff’s Office issue him a trespass notice.
Another security guard confirmed the account and added that, shortly before the deputy arrived, several female customers informed security that Socie asked for their identification and told them he was a police officer in Beaufort County.
When the security guard confronted Socie, he allegedly showed the guard a badge in his wallet and said he was an undercover officer, the report said.
The security guard said he did not believe Socie, so Socie said he would call dispatch and have “seven cop cars show up,” the report said.
A security guard told him to go ahead, and a deputy arrived shortly after.
The deputy attempted to call Socie after interviewing witnesses and was unable to reach him.
The deputy then called Hilton Head dispatch, learned Socie was not on duty, and that Socie’s supervisor would contact the deputy.
Socie’s supervisor, a battalion chief for Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue, contacted the deputy and said Socie was off duty at the time of the incident but had come into a fire station around 2 a.m. the same day and went to sleep, the report said.
Later that day, the deputy went to Socie’s home. A woman identifying herself as Socie’s girlfriend told the deputy Socie was at work.
The battalion chief at the station told the deputy Socie had been suspended.
On Aug. 2, Socie contacted the Sheriff’s Office about the incident and met with a deputy.
According to the report, he told the deputy he remembered being at the restaurant and arguing with one of the employees over his bill. However, he did not remember telling anyone he was a police officer or asking for their identification.
“Socie explained he does not remember the entire evening and only remembered parts of what happened,” the report said. “Socie did not remember anything about his call to a Sheriff’s Office dispatch. Socie advised the only reason he would call about underage customers is if someone asked him to.”
Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue Chief Brad Tadlock said Socie remained on suspension as of Tuesday and that the department is “reviewing the matter.”
Socie works as a senior firefighter paramedic for the department.