Crime & Courts

Chases, twerking and Sindarius Thornwell: Richland County’s wildest ‘Live PD’ moments

Richland Deputy made famous on TV Show ‘Live PD’ tells how he saved child

Richland County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Mastrianni
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Richland County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Mastrianni

From chases to shootings to star athletes — and yes, even provocative dancing — “Live PD” has generated its share of moments that left viewers picking their jaws up off the floor or frantically rewinding their DVRs and asking, “Did that just happen?”

Some of those moments unfolded in Richland County, S.C., home of the Palmetto State’s capital city and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

Here are a few of the wildest moments on the show to come out of Richland County.

‘That’s your baby! That’s your baby!’

Season 1, Episode 50

A report about gunshots led to a high-speed chase and crash, but it was the ensuing struggle between Senior Deputy Chris Mastrianni and a father with his toddler daughter tucked under his arm that left viewers stunned and shot Mastrianni to national fame.

The action unfolded the night of July 8 when a car fled a home where gunshots were reported. Mastrianni chased the car at speeds reaching 90 mph until the car crashed and overturned just off North Main Street.

As Mastrianni got out of his patrol car and approached the overturned vehicle, the barefoot driver crawled out, swinging a toddler girl under his arm.

While holding and, at times, slinging the toddler around, he fought with Mastrianni, who repeatedly yells, “That’s your baby!” and “Let go of the baby!”

An A&E producer stepped in and picked up the little girl as Mastrianni and the suspect continued struggling until backup arrived. Stunned but relieved viewers watched Mastrianni later carrying the girl, her head resting on his shoulder.

“Live PD” host and veteran legal affairs anchor Dan Abrams later tweeted: “I’ve done a lot of live television but tonights #livepd was definitely one of the most emotionally draining. Ever.”

Window jumper

Season 1, Episode 25

A call about a solicitation at a Columbia motel quickly “jumped” to another level when a handcuffed man took off running and dove — hands still cuffed behind his back — through an open window into a motel room.

Deputies were responding to a solicitation call at the Palmetto Inn on Morninghill Drive, just off Interstate 26, when they heard a commotion. That led to the officers looking into a domestic altercation.

Several minutes into the call, Sgt. Steven Tapler is seen talking with another officer when he looks off to the side and starts running. The camera cuts to the suspect they had handcuffed earlier, who had taken off running toward room No. 133 at the end of the motel.

His hands still cuffed behind his back, he jumped head-first, rotating through the air like an Olympic diver, and sailed backward through the open window and curtains.

Through the window, several people were seen inside the room, and deputies told them to open the door. The suspect was lying on the floor under the window when officers entered, saying, “I’ll get you, baby. I’ll get you.”

Tapler told the man he faced another charge for trying to escape.

“I don’t care,” he said repeatedly. “It was worth it.”

Sindarius Thornwell gets chased

Season 1, Episode 55

South Carolina basketball great Sindarius Thornwell made an unplanned appearance on “Live PD” one Friday night last July.

Thornwell, apparently, was being chased by his girlfriend when deputies pulled her over for speeding. The Porsche she was chasing had pulled into a hotel parking lot.

“She’s got all his gear, all his clothes and stuff in the back of her car, basically kicking him out,” Lt. Danny Brown said while approaching the Porsche and its then-unidentified driver. “He evidently was on his way to a party and she doesn’t want him to go to the party, so she’s trying to follow him and make sure he doesn’t go to the party even though she’s kicking him out.”

Thornwell, who had just signed a $3.8 million contract with the L.A. Clippers two days earlier, gets out of the car wearing a Clippers T-shirt. Brown tells Thornwell he looks familiar and asks where he works. Thornwell shrugged, smiled and said he didn’t have a job.

After Brown made sure Thornwell is OK, the two shook hands.

“Take care, boss,” Brown said.

Fiery head-on crash

Season 1

A fiery head-on crash prompted by a speeding driver kicked off an episode of “Live PD” last August.

Then-Senior Deputy Chris Mastrianni followed the red Chevrolet Trailblazer as it pulled over, made a U-turn and took off down River Drive. The SUV weaved in and out of cars for a few seconds before crossing into the oncoming lanes, where cameras captured it slamming head-on into a sedan near Sunset Shopping Center.

The crash sent the sedan spinning, and caused flames and smoke to billow out of the crumbled front end of the SUV. Mastrianni is seen running to the SUV and heard telling the driver, “Don’t move” and “Get on the ground.”

Cameras followed Deputy Kevin Lawrence into the woods, where he arrested a man who ran from the scene.

“You shouldn’t have run,” he told the man, escorting him by the by the arm back to the wreck.

K-Law shuts down belligerent driver

Season 1, Episode 47

During a traffic stop that capped off a Friday night episode, the driver was argumentative with deputies about why they stopped him.

“You’re always wrong when you’re talking to the police,” the man said, his hands cuffed behind his back. But Lawrence wasn’t having it.

“I’m not the police, I’m a deputy sheriff,” he said. Still, the man contended that people are “always wrong” when they talk to law enforcement.

“You know how you can make the change — you can put in an application,” Lawrence said. But the driver balked at the suggestion.

“You can’t meet the qualifications, so don’t even worry about it,” Lawrence said.

In a profanity-laced tirade, the man, who is black, ranted about slavery and said he was being enslaved, at one point even calling Lawrence a “black (expletive).”

“I’m enslaving you for doing something wrong?” Lawrence asked. “But you know one thing that’s bad — I’ve been black longer than you’ve been alive, so tell that to somebody else. Get out of here.”

Twerking for deputies

Season 1, Episode 62

A woman officers encountered during a call decided to add a little bounce to the first season finale of “Live PD.”

After cutting up with the deputies as they prepared to leave, the white-clad woman starts to do a little dance and then stops. But when she realizes the camera is on her, she spins around, sticks out her arms and twerks for the camera.

“No, no!” Abrams is heard saying in the studio. “We don’t need to see that.”

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