RCSD deputy fired, charged after bodycam showed him throw woman in custody to floor by hair

Updated: Sep. 3, 2020 at 12:31 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A Richland County Sheriff’s Department deputy lost his job and faces criminal charges after body camera video surfaced of him throwing a woman in custody, who was handcuffed, onto the floor.

Former Master Deputy Kyle Oliver, 29, who was a supervisor, faces charges of assault and battery, third degree. That’s a misdemeanor.

Video of what Oliver did was shared during a news conference Wednesday. (Story continues below.)

Former Master Deputy Kyle Oliver, 29, who was a supervisor, faces charges of assault and battery, third degree. That’s a misdemeanor.

Sheriff Leon Lott says this happened back on Jan. 7, at the Richland Four headquarters on Beatty Road.

Lott says a woman was arrested that day in the Broad River Road area related to a domestic violence issue.

When deputies brought her to the department, they handcuffed her behind her back and placed her on a bench.

Lott said the woman was “highly agitated” and was hitting the back of her head on the wall -- which eventually put a hole through the wall.

At some point, Oliver went up to the woman, grabbed her by the hair and slung her onto the ground.

“It’s disturbing,” Lott said of the video. “It disturbed me greatly. It didn’t take me long after seeing it to realize we have a problem.”

The sheriff showed the bodycam video to Fifth Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson and he decided to charge the former deputy with assault.

Oliver had his RCSD equipment taken from him Tuesday night and he was arrested Wednesday morning, Lott said.

He was taken to the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, but posted a $2,125 personal recognizance bond and has since been released.

Oliver filled out a use of force form about the incident back on Jan. 7, but what the former deputy wrote on the form did not match the video, Lott said.

While the woman on the body camera footage did not complain to RCSD, Lott said he got a phone call Monday afternoon alerting him to the issue. That’s when he pulled the bodycam.

“Our checks and balances did not work,” the sheriff said.

RCSD has a policy that body camera footage must be reviewed when use of force is reported -- but that didn’t happen in this case.

The sheriff said he is looking into why that didn’t happen so the department can make sure this kind of thing doesn’t slip through the cracks again.

“When we fail as an agency...we take quick, swift action and we do it publicly,” Lott said. “We’re not going to hide from it or try to sugarcoat it -- we’re going to put it out there for what it is.”

The sheriff said he’s started an internal investigation in case there is a bigger issue at play.

He also promised the public, if this is indicative of a cultural issue within RCSD, he’s going to address it.

Lott said Oliver has no excuse for what he did -- so he’s not even going to talk to the former deputy.

“You only use force that’s necessary to address the situation and that force was not necessary,” Lott said.

The sheriff added that Oliver’s actions are “not part of our training, not what we teach, not what we approve.”

Other deputies will be held responsible for their actions -- or lack of action -- related to the situation, Lott said. He said those were policy errors though and not criminal issues.

“We work everyday doing good things out there,” Lott said, “but it only takes one time -- like you just saw -- to create mistrust in the community.”

He added: “It’s our job to be transparent.”

Oliver was also named in a lawsuit in an unrelated matter, Lott said. WIS is working to uncover that litigation.

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