South Carolina

Man claims Myrtle Beach police falsely imprisoned him on vacation

A York County man claims the city of Myrtle Beach and unnamed officers with the Myrtle Beach Police Department violated his civil rights and falsely imprisoned him during his vacation last year in Myrtle Beach, according to a recent lawsuit.

Steven Zioba says he and his family were enjoying time by the pool when he was arrested and detained without a formal charge, interrogated for eight hours and was eventually cited for disorderly conduct – a charge later dropped in municipal court, according to the lawsuit.

“We’re not aware of the case yet,” said Lt. Joey Crosby of the Myrtle Beach Police Department. “With any type of pending litigation we would not comment until we’ve been served and at that point in time we would evaluate the case.”

But as of Monday, Crosby said, the department has yet to be served with the pending litigation.

In the lawsuit, Zioba says he, his wife and their two children were by a pool at Hotel Blue on July 26 when Zioba went to a nearby bathroom and was stopped by an officer who told him to produce his identification.

Zioba says the officer, named “John Doe Policemen” in the lawsuit, accompanied him back to the pool area so he could retrieve his identification. The officer then took him “to the front of Hotel Blue where he was … pushed onto the curb,” according to the lawsuit filed with the Horry County Court of Common Pleas on Thursday.

Zioba’s family followed him to the front of the hotel where the lawsuit states Zioba’s wife asked the officer “on more than 10 occasions why her husband was being detained” only to be told to “shut up” by the officer.

(Zioba and his wife were) interrogated … for approximately 8 hours before being released by law enforcement.

Lawsuit filed in Horry County Court of Common Pleas

The lawsuit alleges Zioba was arrested “without being formally charged or Mirandized and taken to the Myrtle Beach Police Department” where his wife was informed that he was “being questioned in connection with a sexual assault.”

Zioba and his wife were “interrogated … for approximately 8 hours before being released by law enforcement,” according to the lawsuit. Zioba was officially charged with disorderly conduct. The charge was dismissed by the Myrtle Beach Municipal Court in October, according to the lawsuit.

Through the complaint filed by his attorney, Jarrett Calder with the Grand Strand Law Group, Zioba said his arrest and detention without a warrant or probable cause was unlawful and that the unlawful arrest caused him to suffer “physical, mental and emotional damages.”

A day in court caused Zioba to miss a day of work and almost lose his job, according to the lawsuit, which also alleges “malicious prosecution.”

Zioba says the actions of the officer were conducted with “reckless indifference” towards his protected civil rights and the officer’s actions were the “result of a failure to train” officers by the city. He claimed his rights to be secure in his person and against unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment were violated along with his right not to be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law under the Fifth and 14th amendments.

Zioba is demanding a jury trial and is asking the court to compensate him for the damages he says he suffered from false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and a violation of his civil rights. He doesn’t request an amount in the lawsuit.

Emily Weaver: 843-444-1722, @TSNEmily