Attorney for South Congaree police chief threatens to sue town - - Columbia, South Carolina

Attorney for South Congaree police chief threatens to sue town

Chief Josh Shumpert (Source: WIS) Chief Josh Shumpert (Source: WIS)

For the second time in two days, South Congaree residents are expected to fill City Council Chambers to attempt to learn more about the employment status of the town's police chief. 

Although a special meeting Monday morning was full of residents demanding answers, they are expected to return to a meeting scheduled for Tuesday night.

Every seat was filled Monday as people waited for council to address the fate of the town's police chief, Josh Shumpert.

In a 45-minute period, the chief's badge and gun were taken away and then given back.
The public response came after the mayor says a special meeting was held last Tuesday where council voted 3-2 to fire Shumpert.

"I've employed people all my life," Danny Jones said, "and I know you can't expect a young person to do what a more seasoned person might, but Josh's heart is there. He wants to do right."

Council went straight into executive session Monday morning.

Several people at the meeting waited, hoping to get some answers about their police chief and his future with the town.

Shumpert was called into the executive session, where, according to Shumpert's attorney, he was told to hand over his badge and gun.

"They said he'd been terminated in executive session,"Shumpert's attorney Jake Moore said, "and I explained to them that you can't terminate somebody in executive session. Then, they said he hasn't been terminated. So they then went back into executive session again and decided that he hadn't been terminated."

Moore said Shumpert has only been written up once for clocking in late. Outside of that, Moore said the council has not told Shumpert what he's done wrong. With that, Moore believes there might be an ulterior motive behind the termination.

"We have some serious questions as to what has taken place and why," Moore said.

South Congaree's mayor confirmed that there was a vote last week to get rid of Chief Shumpert, but he did not go into detail about what happened at meeting. He noted the citizens' turnout Monday morning to and said it is something council should take into consideration.   

Mayor Brian Jackson tells WIS he will continue to support Chief Shumpert. Jackson said he didn't know why council members were so quick to pull the trigger and he didn't know what their motivation was. Jackson said the people have spoken and hoped the majority of council will support Shumpert at the meeting Tuesday.

"If they got a problem with him, I fought to get him this job, not only me but this whole town," said resident Betty Slusher. "They owe it to us to tell us what the problem is."

The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.The meeting agenda includes an item for executive session for "personal matters discussion (release of an employee)" and "legal advice."

Should the council attempt to fire Shumpert again, Moore said he will sue South Congaree.

"I will do it if they make me do it," Moore said, "and it won't be pretty."

Shumpert was hired by town council about one year ago, after the resignation of former Police Chief Jason Amodio. Amodio has been indicted by the state, following the federal indictment of suspended Lexington County Sheriff James Metts who is facing bribery charges.

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