A brief explanation of civil lawsuits
The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department named deputy Darren Wiseman the community service officer of the year for 2014.
Lewis McCarty, who was sheriff at the time, recognized Wiseman, in part, for working with Walmart in Red Bank to curb shoplifting “by seeking enhanced punishments for repeat offenders,” a department statement said.
Wiseman is scheduled to be in court later this month because of one 2014 shoplifting arrest connected to the Walmart. But this time, he will be the defendant, accused in a civil lawsuit of arresting the wrong person.
It’s one of two lawsuits filed against Wiseman and the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department claiming that he lied to make an arrest. In the other case, he’s accused of falsely charging a Richland County Sheriff’s Deputy with domestic violence.
Wiseman, his lawyers and lawyers for the sheriff’s department did not respond to The State.
Wiseman resigned in February from the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department “in very good standing,” Captain Adam Myrick said, adding that the former deputy was not asked to leave.
Myrick said the department would not answer questions about Wiseman or the two cases. But in court filings, the department denied all the allegation against it in both cases.
The department admits only that at all times Defendant Wiseman was acting in the course and scope of his employment, lawyers wrote in answer to the claims against the agency.
THE TWO SABRINA JACKSONS
Sabrina Jackson “in no way could be described as fat,” her suit against Wiseman said.
Jackson’s legal nightmare began on April 23, 2014, when Ivan Dennis, an employee of the Red Bank Walmart in charge of reducing theft, saw a “‘black female’” place items in a cart and walk out without paying, the lawsuit said. Dennis got the make, model and license plate number of the vehicle that carried the robber away. He passed that information along to Wiseman a few days later along with security footage of the thief.
Wiseman tracked the plate number to a woman who told the deputy that her friend Sabrina Jackson was with her that day at Walmart. Wiseman showed the woman the screenshot of the alleged thief and she said she recognized her friend in the picture. She then described her friend as “‘fat,’” a description Wiseman put in his notes, the suit said. The woman also told Wiseman that her friend was moving or already had moved to Charlotte.
The lawsuit doesn’t indicate whether the woman told Wiseman how to contact Jackson.
With a name, Wiseman pulled up a state Department of Motor Vehicle record for a Sabrina Jackson “who was simply black and lived in Lexington County,” the suit said. The record provided him with a photo and an address to a home on Edinfield Court near Gaston.
On May 1, Wiseman met back up with Dennis from Walmart, who said the DMV photo was of the woman he saw shoplifting. But the lawsuit claims that “they look nothing like each other.”
The deputy and the Walmart employee also had the security footage to compare with the picture, and the lawsuit claims the two images show different women.
The lawsuit doesn’t provide a detailed description of Jackson, though it says she “in no way could be described as fat.”
On June 17, Wiseman swore before a magistrate judge that Sabrina Jackson who lived on Edinfield Court shoplifted at the Red Bank Walmart. He told the judge that a friend of Jackson’s identified her in the security camera shot. But the deputy never mentioned to the judge that the woman described her friend as fat, contradicting the image in the DMV photo, according to the lawsuit. Nor did he tell the judge that the woman never said her friend lived on Edinfield Court.
“Two half-truths make a whole lie,” wrote Robert Phillips, the plaintiff’s lawyer, in the summons and complaint. “Wiseman told the magistrate judge a lie.”
Based on that reported lie, an arrest warrant was issued for the wrong Sabrina Jackson, the lawsuit claims. After having a deputy show up at her house and threaten a physical arrest, Jackson turned herself in “with no choice (but) to comply” on June 25, the complaint said. She was cuffed, booked, and left in a jail cell for over 12 hours before a judge let her out on bond.
When Jackson’s defense attorney contacted Wiseman, he began the cover-up, the suit claimed. Wiseman told Jackson’s defense attorney that the charges were being dropped because “the two witnesses were not coming to court,” the complaint said.
“This was an absolute lie,” Phillips wrote in the complaint. Wiseman “knew it was an absolute lie.”
The suit also claimed that Wiseman went back into the investigation file and added untrue information. Wiseman wrote that the woman who gave him the name Sabrina Jackson said her friend lived on Edinfield Court, the suit said.
The suit claimed that the woman never told Wiseman anything about Edinfield Court, that the woman “does not know where Edinfield Court is located nor has she ever even heard of such a location.”
The lawsuit lists Walmart as a defendant, but in its response, the company denied any wrongdoing.
“We want all of our customers to have a pleasant experience in our stores,” Walmart spokesperson LeMia Jenkins said. “We dispute the plaintiffs’ claims and will continue to defend the company.”
The cost of the stolen merchandise that began the series of events was $50.
THE TWO DEPUTIES
William Carlson’s former wife said she was “‘going to ruin his career in law enforcement,’” his suit against Wiseman and the Lexington sheriff’s department alleged.
That might have happened after a call to 911 on Dec. 7, 2016.
Carlson had worked for a decade as a cop. He was a highway trooper from 2006 to 2010, and joined the Richland County Sheriff’s Department in 2011. Carlson was working as a deputy when his wife called Lexington police during what the suit described as a “mere verbal altercation.” A dispatcher sent Wiseman to check on the domestic dispute.
When Wiseman showed up, a problem arose, the suit showed. Carlson and Wiseman knew each other and had served in the military together.
“At this point what should have happened was for [Wiseman] to have called in for someone else to investigate the alleged incident,” Phillips wrote in the complaint. “Rather than take the appropriate action and call in for a replacement, Defendant Wiseman decided to continue with the investigation…”
Wiseman wrote in a police report that he saw redness on the woman’s cheek and early stages of bruising near her chin, according to the suit. He noted that marks on her neck looked like she’d been in a headlock. He took pictures of the injuries.
“However, the pictures showed absolutely no injuries…” Phillips wrote. Wiseman arrested Carlson “without sufficient evidence” and “absolutely no probable cause.” He arrested the fellow officer to “‘prove he was not biased.’”
Wiseman went before a judge to obtain an arrest warrant on a third-degree domestic violence charge against Carlson. The deputy didn’t tell the judge about the photos — which the judge would have requested to see if the judge knew they existed — because Wiseman knew the injuries didn’t exist, the suit alleged.
In June 2017, a jury acquitted Carlson of the domestic violence charge.
Because of the charge, Carlson immediately lost his job as a Richland County Sheriff’s deputy.
“He suffered an extreme amount of public humiliation and shame,” the suit said. The arrest and fallout embarrassed him before friends and co-workers and damaged his reputation.
“He simply did not commit the crime,” the suit said.
After the acquittal, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s Internal Affairs reviewed Carlson’s case. His work history, performance and evaluations were looked at and his supervisors were spoken to.
He was hired Carlson back as deputy in July 2017.
“We felt he was worthy of coming back,” Sheriff Leon Lott said. “He was found innocent. There was no reason not to hire him back. He was a good deputy when he worked here.”