Columbia attorneys ask for delay in MB attorney interference trial - - Columbia, South Carolina

Columbia attorneys ask for delay in MB attorney interference trial

Jonathan McCoy (at left) questions the officers arresting Allen McAlister (striped shirt) Jonathan McCoy (at left) questions the officers arresting Allen McAlister (striped shirt)

By Jody Barr - bio | email

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The trial for a Myrtle Beach attorney, charged with interfering with an arrest last fall outside a Five Points bar, has been delayed after Columbia City prosecutors asked for a continuance last week.

Officers John K. Passmore, James Heywood and Amanda H. Long arrested 27-year-old Myrtle Beach attorney Jonathan David McCoy and 25-year-old Allen McAlister on Oct. 16, 2009 outside Sharky's Bar after Columbia Police got a call from a bartender at Red Hot Tomatoes about McAlister causing a disturbance.

When police arrived, they found McAlister more than 20 yards away from Red Hot Tomatoes, standing in front of Sharky's.

Surveillance video from outside Sharky's shows the encounter between the men and police.
The video shows the officers' approach; one officer immediately placed McAlister under arrest.

But the three officers later wrote in a police report "he needed to leave," and said they gave him "several chances to leave."

The officers wrote in their report that McAlister walked back to the bar twice before officers wrestled McAlister to the ground and arrested him.

Police went on to claim McAlister "snatched his arms away" and "started pushing the officers away," claims the video does not support.

On Jan. 19, McCoy filed a federal lawsuit against the officers and the Columbia Police Department, contesting the constitutionality of his arrest.

The video then shows McCoy walking up to ask officers why they were arresting his friend.

The officers wrote in their report that McCoy "grabbed an officer by the arm" and continued to intervene by "getting in [the reporting officer's] face." McCoy says he was simply asking the officers about McAlister's arrest details, bond hearing and Miranda rights.

In the video, officers shoved McCoy several times before placing him under arrest. The officers reported in detail that McCoy resisted arrest, allegations the video also disputes.

McCoy's suit claims he asked the officer why he himself was being arrested, and Officer Passmore replied, "for asking questions." The suit said Passmore went on to say it was a crime to ask questions about McAlister's arrest.

In addition to his having his charges dropped, McCoy is also asking for compensation. He says he was traumatized by the ordeal that followed his arrest.

The officers didn't file the charges with the jail after the men were booked in, which caused them to miss two bond hearings and spend a night in jail. During that stay, McCoy witnessed his cellmate kill himself.

McCoy's cellmate had been booked on charges of assault and battery with intent to kill and driving under the influence, and was found hanged in his cell. Coroner Gary Watts ruled Olin Taylor's death a suicide.

The city announced the investigation Thursday, one week after the city was served with the federal suit.

But according to federal court records, McCoy's attorney notified the city of the complaint and tried to resolve the matter in October.

Assistant City Manager Michael King announced an internal investigation into the arrest after we reported the lawsuit and aired the surveillance video on Feb. 4.

"All allegations of misconduct or wrongdoing by members of CPD or any City of Columbia Public Safety Department will be promptly, objectively, fairly, and fully investigated," said Assistant City Manager Michael King in a statement.

A written request to the city seeking current employment status', ranks, hire dates and current positions was sent to the CPD's public relation director, Brick Lewis, on Feb. 5. The city has not responded to that request or to phone calls concerning the information.

The city has not responded to requests for updates concerning the status of the internal affairs investigation in to the officers.

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