Fired Sumter police officer accuses boss of assault

By Jody Barr - bio | email

SUMTER, SC (WIS) - After being fired from the Sumter Police Department, a former officer is fighting back.

The chief fired Master Patrolman Alex Williams two weeks ago, accusing him of stealing more than $1,200 on a "found money" call. But Williams says the department's major assaulted him while investigating the case, and Williams wants an investigation.

This isn't the first time this major has faced accusations of assault.

"I feel like, because I stood up for myself, we've got to get him out of here," said Master patrolman Alex Williams, whose gun, badge and police credentials were all stripped away by Sumter police chief patty Patterson. 
The reason Williams' 4-year police career is over is because the chief says Williams didn't turn in a report on $1,200 a man found at a broad street car wash. Williams says he didn't do a report because the man who lost the money flagged him down minutes after he took possession of it, and he handed it to the owner.

"I asked him curiously how much, and he tells me the amount that was turned it," said Williams. "I said okay, so I'm thinking this gentleman knows how much is found, so it makes sense to me."

The amount was $1,235. The owner, according to Williams, gave him that exact figure. After handing it over, Williams went on to the next call.

"That was the furthest thing from my mind," said Williams. "Just going on with life and then June 14, everything came back."

On June 14, Sumter Police Major Alvin Holston called Williams into his office to investigate where the money went after the man who found it wanted to get the police report. Williams says he told Holston he found the owner, verified the amount, handed it over and went on with answering calls. 
He says Holston accused him of stealing it, an accusation Williams repeatedly denied. "So he orders me to stand up, screaming, 'stand up, you're on administrative leave,'" said Williams. "He orders me to give him my weapon, I said 'no problem.'"

But that's when Williams says the screaming and profanity escalated. "As I went for my weapon, he grabbed my hand like this," demonstrated Williams. "I said, 'hold on,' he grabbed it again. 'I'll get the gun.' I'm like, 'hold on, man, don't touch me, ain't no need for that.'"

The next day, Williams filed a complaint with the chief about the assault claims. Williams says he got no answer. Three days later, Williams filed a grievance with again no answer. 
It would take another week before the chief fired him over the money case. "I was fired because I stood up for myself, and basically that's what happened," said Williams.

Stood up, Williams says, when he decided to pursue the assault complaint against Holston. Williams' complaint of physical violence isn't the first against the veteran officer. 
Master Sergeant Terry Griffin retired from the Sumter Police Department after a 30-year career. Griffin says sometime in 2001, he and several other Sumter officers responded to a call at a home on White Oak Park. It was a domestic violence call, and Griffin says the home belonged to Alvin Holston.

"I found his daughter's clothes had been thrown out the front door and the back door into the yard," said Griffin. "Alvin was of course agitated, and the girl had been thrown down and her knees skinned up."

"Of course, I put him in my police car, took his gun and keys and carried him to the police department and that's the last I heard of it," added Griffin.

Griffin says the captain and chief took the case over. He filed a report, and assigned a case number. Griffin said he checked on the report later, but found the report had disappeared. Griffin said he "fully" intended to prosecute the case.

"All of the above is, quite frankly, a violation of department policy," said Deputy Chief Patty Patterson.

Patterson says she fired Williams because he failed to document whom he handed the money to. Patterson says she's asked SLED to investigate the assault claims, as well as Williams' actions concerning the money. 
The chief says she counseled Holston for his use of profanity against Williams. "I think most of us have been subjected to it, as well as when we've dealt with the public, or dealt with suspects, or dealt with individuals or dealt with employees, for that matter," said Patterson. "It's unfortunate that it happens, but it does."

Williams is still waiting on the department to respond to his complaints against Holston. Williams says he just wants his complaint investigated to keep other officers from dealing with the same. "You telling me I violated a policy," said Williams. "He violated the law, which is a stark difference. I didn't violate the law, I violated a policy."

We received a copy of Major Holston's employee file to see if there are any other complaints filed and how the department addressed them. We're looking over the file and will bring you a full report Friday evening at 6.

Holston is slated to become deputy chief once Patterson retires on September 1 to take a city position.

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