Crime & Courts

His car was searched on ‘Live PD.’ Now he’s suing SC sheriff’s office, TV network

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A South Carolina man whose car was searched on the hit police show “Live PD” is suing the sheriff’s office and the show’s producers.

Javonte Hall was leaving a friend’s Greenville apartment on his way home from work on April 29, 2017, when the incident happened, according to a lawsuit filed in Greenville County Circuit Court. As Hall pulled out of a parking spot at the apartment, Greenville County sheriff’s Deputy Chad Ayers “rammed his patrol car” into Hall’s car.

Ayers “aggressively” approached Hall with his weapon, and detained Hall for “an objectively unreasonably long amount of time” while his car was searched, according to the complaint.

“During this time, Mr. Ayers made various defamatory comments to the cameras, and commentators painted the Plaintiff as a dangerous criminal,” the complaint states.

When deputies found no evidence of wrongdoing, Hall was released, according to the lawsuit. No charges were filed.

The deputies continued to characterize Hall as a criminal on the show, “suggesting that he happened to get away with a crime this time despite that he was clearly a criminal,” the complaint states.

Then-Sheriff Will Lewis apologized for the incident during a meeting with Hall later and told him to obtain several repair quotes so the Sheriff’s Office could reimburse him for the damage to his car, according to the lawsuit. But after Hall provided the quotes to the Sheriff’s Office, the agency filed a claim with Hall’s insurance saying Hall was at fault for the damage to the police cruiser.

Ayers has a “lengthy” history of disciplinary issues and misconduct, “which is so extensive that prosecutors consider him to be a ‘Brady cop,’ meaning that prosecutors are required to notify defendants and their attorneys whenever a law enforcement official involved in the case has a confirmed record of knowingly lying to authority,” the complaint states. It did not provide details about the alleged issues or misconduct, or why prosecutors allegedly considered him a “Brady cop.”

The suit also claims Hall “was largely targeted in this manner because of his race” but doesn’t elaborate. He seeks $100,000 in damages for emotional distress, damage to his reputation, lost ability to earn wages, property damage and legal fees.

The Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on the lawsuit.

“In an effort to protect the integrity of the case, it is the Sheriff’s Office practice to withhold comment on any and all pending civil litigation,” sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ryan Flood said in an email to The State on Thursday.

In addition to the Sheriff’s Office, Hall’s suit names A&E and the show’s production company, Big Fish Entertainment, as defendants.

Greenville County first appeared on the A&E show midway through the first season but ended its contact last August after the season concluded. It was one of two S.C. agencies to appear on the show at the time, along with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

Lt. Curtis Wilson of the Richland County Sheriff's Department explains how the agency selects which deputies are followed on-camera on A&E's documentary series "Live PD."