Allegations of excessive force brought against current, former Kershaw Co. deputies

Updated: Nov. 19, 2020 at 9:07 PM EST
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LUGOFF, S.C. (WIS) - Two men face allegations of excessive force in their roles as Kershaw County Sheriff’s deputies.

On Wednesday, Sheriff Lee Boan announced his office fired a deputy for knocking out a suspect on October 15.

On Thursday, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division spokesperson Tommy Crosby confirmed SLED is investigating that deputy and identified him as Johnathan Goldsmith.

The KCSO Facebook page shows Goldsmith joined the office in early 2019 and won Deputy of the Year that December.

It remains unclear where the incident involving Goldsmith took place, as the KCSO press release only states it took place at a church.

On Thursday, Boan declined to name the church but said it’s in the upper part of the county and secluded.

The exact details are of what took place are unclear, but the KCSO press release reads:

“As the deputy tried to handcuff the man to conduct an investigation, officials said the suspect resisted arrest and pulled away from the deputy. The deputy then used force to put the man on the ground and handcuff. However, the man was knocked unconscious while doing so.”

Boan said body camera footage and surveillance footage from the church shows Goldsmith had an opportunity to de-escalate the situation but instead crossed a line.

“The deputy was reacting to what the subject was doing. But the initial reaction, there was time I felt there should have been some de-escalation there,” he said. “Take a breather, get your mind straight, and make a better decision. You’ve got more time to make that decision.”

As part of the firing, KCSO filed an allegation against Goldsmith with the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy. As a result, Goldsmith is suspended from being a law enforcement officer in South Carolina unless he successfully appeals.

Boan said he takes responsibility for the incident involving Goldsmith and will work with his deputies on use of force.

“This is my failure,” Boan said. “This is my failure to our citizens and something that shouldn’t have happened and at this point, I can’t go back in time and change it, but I can make things better going into the future.”

He went on to state: “We got to do better in training and we got to make sure these guys understand what right and wrong is, and keep getting better going into the future teaching guys better.”

KCSO Lieutenant William West is facing a lawsuit in federal court over his alleged actions in Elgin on Oct. 8.

The lawsuit alleges West arrested and assaulted plaintiff Richard Kevin Connolly while Connolly was trying to get to his father on Watts Hill Road.

It stated that West alleged Connolly was disturbing a crime scene.

The lawsuit states in part that West “slammed Plaintiff on the hood of a white vehicle. Deputy West then choked Plaintiff with his forearm and threw Plaintiff onto the ground, placed his knee into the side of Plaintiff’s face driving Plaintiff’s face into the gravel driveway causing injury and pain.”

Boan said the body camera footage shows a SLED investigation for West’s actions is not warranted.

“I’ve seen bits and pieces, and I will at some point watch the entire thing from everybody’s angle and all to get a better feel on it, but at this point, I don’t see or know of any reason why that this needs to be investigated criminally by SLED,” he said.

Crosby said SLED is not investigating West. Neither KCSO nor Boan is named in the lawsuit.

Attorney Brett Perry filed the lawsuit against West on behalf of Connolly and told WIS he would be filing a lawsuit against Goldsmith next week.

He declined an interview request.

WIS requested the footage of the Goldsmith incident from SLED and the West incident footage from KCSO.

You can read the full lawsuit below:

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