BISHOPVILLE, SC (WIS) – A Lee County deputy is out of a job and three officers have been written up after WIS cameras caught them at a nightclub potentially wasting tax dollars and performing hands-on security checks that some might call "inappropriate."
Sheriff Daniel Simon fired Deputy John Jackson Wednesday and gave three other officers, Captain Lynn Blakney, Corporal Louis Torres, and school resource officer Shante Demery written reprimands for violating department policies.
"He said after his little investigation that he did, that he would have to terminate me," said Jackson, who left the sheriff's office on Wednesday stripped of his badge and gun. "His hands were tied because of what had happened, how he looked at the video."
Last Thursday, Jackson and Blakney were working off-duty security at the door of the Davis Social Club on Highway 15. Both officers were patting patrons down and escorting women to and from the club's parking lot. Blakney, dressed in a heavy jacket with "SHERIFF" written across the back, was posted outside the club for security.
Both deputies were in department-issued vehicles. Jackson was in a white Ford Crown Victoria and Blakney was in an unmarked Ford truck.
WIS video shows Jackson patting a female patron down at the front door as the woman, facing away from Jackson, starts "grinding" on the deputy. Video shows Jackson slap the woman on the buttocks twice.
Jackson said the actions were a "joke" between the woman and himself. "Her and I were playing on each other," he said. "That's all that was, and it was taken out of context, and I apologize whole-heartedly for that."
Video also showed a second woman in the group backing up to Jackson as he spends several seconds rubbing the woman's back. Jackson was then seen putting both arms around the woman and thrusting his pelvis into her.
Jackson said he was actually performing a life-saving rescue procedure on the woman. "Her other friend that was on the video was choking and I did try to help her by giving her the Heimlich Maneuver," explained Jackson.
Simon terminated Jackson, a two year veteran of the sheriff's department, for violation of department's conduct policy. "There's no excuse for what he did," Simon said.
Jackson apologized to Lee County residents on Wednesday, but said he feels his actions were the "least egregious, but the most severely punished." "If you weigh it out, I don't know which one is heavier, theirs or mine," said Jackson. "But in the outcome, I guess mine was heavier because I'm the one that's out of the job."
Simon also said Blakney failed in supervising the two on-duty deputies, Torres and Demery, by allowing them to hang out at the club for an hour while on the clock. Records showed Torres and Demery were the only deputies on-duty, but Simon said Wednesday that there was another officer on patrol that night.
At 11:47pm, Demery pulled up in front of the club and parked his marked patrol car in the median. Demery walked to the club's door where Blakney and Jackson were working. At 12:18am, a second deputy, identified by the sheriff as Torres, parked his marked cruiser behind Blakney's and joined the other officers at the club's door.
WIS cameras show the men standing in front of the business for exactly one hour before we approached the deputies at 12:47am to ask them why they were not patrolling the county. Blakney approached our camera and used his hand to cover the lens. "Who are you with?" Blakney asked. "I'm with WIS, who are you with?" said Barr. Blakney then pushed the camera away and asked, "What are you doing?"
We told Blakney we wanted to know why two of the county's only three on-duty deputies were at the club. Blakney walked away, then ordered Demery and Torres to leave. As Demery walked to his car, we asked why he was there. "Can I get your name, sir?" asked Barr. "No sir, you can get that (camera) out," said Demery. "You can't give me your name?" asked Barr. "Why have you been here an hour?" Demery did not answer and climbed into his car and drove away.
Corporal Torres, walking to his cruiser, did not answer our questions as to why he was standing outside the club. "What about you sir?" said Barr "There are two deputies on duty in this county, why have you been out here for 45 minutes?" Torres got in to his cruiser and drove away.
Simon reprimanded Torres and Demery for violating the department's general responsibility of duty policy. "They were at the club longer than a reasonable break time would allow," said Simon. "They shouldn't have been out there that long." Captain Blakney was given a written reprimand for violation of supervisory accountability policy. Simon said, as the supervising officer, Blakney "should have told them (Torres and Demery) their break is up and go back to work."
After our report, Simon suspended all off-duty night club details "until further notice."