Crime & Courts

Trooper charged in Columbia chase

A state Highway Patrol trooper seen on video hitting a fleeing suspect on foot with his patrol car at a Columbia apartment complex in 2007 has been charged with a federal civil rights violation.

Lance Cpl. Alexander Richardson is charged with using excessive force against Kevin Rucker on April 28, 2007, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin McDonald confirmed this afternoon.

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Richardson is charged with a misdemeanor civil rights count, McDonald said, unlike two other troopers charged last year with felony civil rights violations.

One of those troopers, John B. Sawyer, pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Charleston and is awaiting sentencing.

The other, Steve Garren, was acquitted by a Greenville jury in October.

McDonald said Richardson was charged with a misdemeanor count because there “didn’t appear to be injuries with the use of excessive force.”

McDonald added that “it’s our understanding” Richardson will plead guilty to the charge.

Richardson’s attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.

A dashboard video obtained last year by The State shows Rucker being hit by Richardson’s patrol car at Columbia Garden Apartments on Plowden Road off South Beltline Boulevard.

The video shows that patrol car driving over sidewalks and curbs in the apartment complex. A man and his young son are seen on the video running out of the way of the oncoming cruiser.

Rucker, who is identified in court papers as both Kevin and Calvin Rucker, filed a federal lawsuit in September seeking unspecified actual and punitive damages against the state Department of Public Safety. The suit contends he suffered “physical, psychological and emotional harm.”

Reach Brundrett at (803) 771-8484.