Former Sumter officer fired, accused of misconduct now fully cle - - Columbia, South Carolina

Former Sumter officer fired, accused of misconduct now fully cleared


A former Sumter police officer, fired after being accused of not turning in money found at a car wash, is now cleared to work in law enforcement. Sumter Police leaders turned a letter in to the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy after Alex Williams' firing in 2011, accusing the officer of misconduct.

A Sumter County jury found Williams not guilty after a trial on a State Law Enforcement Division charge of breach of trust. On July 9, the state's police academy director sent Williams a letter, clearing his certification of the misconduct mark.

"It has come to my attention that a trial was held on 6-24-13 at which time a jury found you not guilty of the breach of trust charge," academy director Hubert Harrell wrote, "Please be advised that due to this favorable verdict, Academy records will reflect that your firing from the Sumter Police Department was not due to misconduct."

Williams said he doesn't know if he'll continue his law enforcement career now.

In July 2011, Sumter Police Department's now-deputy chief, Alvin Holston, accused Williams of not turning in $1,235 after someone called the department to report finding the money at a car wash. Williams told Holston a man flagged him down when he left the car wash with the money, and claimed ownership.

"He flashed his lights several times at me as I was pulling out of the car wash," Williams said. "I asked him how much money did he lose and he told me $1,235. He hit the amount on the head; there was no way he just guessed at that."

Holston later called Williams into his office to take his gun and badge, according to Williams. During the meeting, Williams said Holston got angry and tried to "yank" Williams' firearm out of his holster and grabbed his arm in the process. Williams filed a complaint against Holston, then days later got word the State Law Enforcement Division opened an investigation into the missing money.

The call to SLED, Williams told WIS, he felt was the result of his report about Holston's assault during his meeting in June 2011. 

SLED later charged Williams with breach of trust. Last month, two years to the day former Sumter Police Chief Patty Patterson fired him, a Sumter County jury found Williams not guilty on the SLED charge.

"It was just pure relief," Williams told WIS, "Two years. You can't imagine how life-altering those two years were."

Since Williams lost his job with Sumter Police, he says he's had trouble finding work with a criminal charge hanging over him.

"I call it the favor of God and the irony of God and it's just God's grace working," Williams said, "It shows he had me in the valley for two years, but he never left me. He never walked away from me."

Williams said prosecutors offered him a deal: take a plea to the charge and walk away with a fine. Williams said he wanted a jury to prove his innocence.

"When I'm right and I know I'm right and I can stand on my right, then that's what I do," Williams said. "That's who I am and that's who I always will be. That's how I was raised and nobody can change that."

Those who worked with Williams called him a good, honest cop, but Williams said despite the acquittal, he'll always have a mark on his law enforcement career.

"As hard a sit may have been, it made me stronger. It made me stronger and anything I encounter now it's I made it thorough that, I can make it through this," Williams said. "I didn't die, I didn't give up."

"Two years I survived; only God's grace. Only God's grace kept me for that two years because other than that, I don't know, you'll probably be doing a different story about me if it wasn't for his grace," Williams told WIS.

Former Sumter Police Chief Patty Patterson did not respond to our request for an interview for this story. Deputy Chief Alvin Holston's boss, Chief Russell Roark, denied our request to interview Holston.

Roark wrote in an email to WIS on June 28, "Mr. Williams's [sic] employment with the Sumter Police Department was terminated in June of 2011 for violating policy of the agency, not as result of a jury verdict two (2) years later. Personnel actions for violating policy are separate and distinct from criminal charges. Because Deputy Chief Holston neither terminated Williams nor had the authority to do so at the time of his dismissal, your request to interview Holston will not be granted."

Williams' law enforcement career is on hold as he's currently working for a roofing company.

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