KCSO documents show 2nd instance where Sheriff knew of deputy’s behavior before alleged assault

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Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 6:25 PM EDT
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LUGOFF, S.C. (WIS) - A WIS investigation into Kershaw County law enforcement records found the sheriff was presented with concerns about one of his deputy’s uses of force at least twice before an alleged assault resulted in the deputy’s firing, criminal charges, and a lawsuit.

Former Deputy Johnathan Goldsmith’s KCSO personnel file shows a use of force review of an April 21, 2020 incident found he used a taser on a suspect who had their hands up and was making “no aggressive movements.”

The personnel files show Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan was made aware of the incident.

In July 2018, a Camden Police Use of Force Board expressed concern about Goldsmith’s frequent use of violence and recommended training. Boan was on the board.

Both situations came before an October 2020 use of force incident for which Goldsmith faces criminal charges and a lawsuit. Boan fired Goldsmith on Nov. 13, 2020.

Boan and the sheriff’s office are both named in the civil action.

Here’s the timeline:

July 2018 Use of Force review

A WIS investigation in June 2021 found documents showing Camden Police leaders were concerned about the frequency then-Officer Goldsmith was using force.

A July 31, 2018 Use of Force Board, including then-CPD Capt. Lee Boan, reviewed all 31 use of force reports from January through July of that year.

Goldsmith was involved in 13 out of the 31 reported use of force incidents. The board found all of his uses of force were within policy, however leadership scheduled training for Goldsmith on de-escalation.

The board also scheduled an Oct. 1, 2018 review of Goldsmith actions. The scheduled CPD review didn’t happen.

S.C. Criminal Justice Academy records show Goldsmith left the department on Sept. 6, 2018, to work for the Fairfield County Sheriff’s office. His first day was Sept. 10, 2018.

He worked at the Fairfield Sheriff’s Office until Jan. 29, 2019. Boan hired Goldsmith at the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office the next day.

The April 2020 incident

New KCSO use of force documents show Goldsmith was responding to a call about someone who was suicidal on April 21, 2020.

Chief Deputy Steve Knafelc reviewed the incident and wrote Goldsmith’s body camera footage shows the suspect was agitated, appearing to move his hands in and out of his pockets.

He wrote that Goldsmith asked the individual if he wanted to hurt himself.

Knafelc wrote the individual responds “no but I might want to hurt you, you will never know,” at which point Goldsmith draws his taser and tells the suspect to put his hands up. Knafelc writes:

The suspect raises his arms with his elbows in by his ribs and his palms up. Goldsmith states hands up and discharges his taser striking the suspect in the upper and low abdomen area. The taser is effective as the suspect falls to the ground and is handcuffed.

Personnel file documents show Chief Deputy Steve Knafelc wrote he discussed the situation with Boan. Knafelc wrote the incident was “excessive” and the suspect did not pose a “risk of immediate danger” to Goldsmith.

In Goldsmith’s personnel file is a note from Knafelc dated April 28, 2020. He writes Goldsmith received a written reprimand for his actions and then a verbal reprimand with Knafelc and Lt. Chris Boykin on April 24, 2020.

Knafelc writes in part:

We discussed this incident and Goldsmith knew what happened was the wrong decision. He understood the punishment that was given and accepted this as is. He states he believed that the subject was placing his hands up in a fist, until he looked at the body cam video he knew what happened was the wrong decision. He advised me that he actually called Lt. Boykin soon after the incident to advise him of what had happened.

WIS submitted a Freedom of Information request for the body camera footage of the incident.

On Nov. 1, 2021, Asst. Kershaw County Attorney H. Thomas Morgan, Jr. sent a letter denying the request. He cited an exemption in state law for body camera footage.

October 2020 incident

On Jan. 13, 2021, SLED issued an arrest warrant for an Oct. 15, 2020 incident where Goldsmith allegedly used excessive force against a suspect being non-compliant.

The warrant states he repeatedly hit a suspect in the head and neck, used a taser multiple times, and closed a patrol car on the suspects’ leg multiple times.

It also alleges he knocked out the suspect.

It states the suspect received a fractured jaw, lost several teeth and suffered an injury to the neck.

WIS obtained the body camera footage of the incident which shows Goldsmith repeatedly hitting the suspect while he was on the ground.

Goldsmith’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

On Nov. 1, Morgan sent a letter on behalf of Boan reading:

I am responding to your series of emails to Sheriff Boan regarding an upcoming story WIS will be airing on Thursday, November 4, 2021, involving former Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Johnathan Goldsmith. First, I would like to thank you for your courtesy in reaching out to Sheriff Boan and extending him an opportunity to speak as to your story. However, since there is pending litigation involving former Deputy Goldsmith and the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office, the sheriff will not be able to participate. However, Sheriff Boan looks forward to telling his side of the story to a jury at the trial of the case.

At the time of Goldsmith’s arrest, Boan stated:

“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.”

Boan, Goldsmith and the Sheriff’s office face a lawsuit over the incident.

It alleges:

“Plaintiff suffered physical harm, emotional harm, alteration of his lifestyle, humiliation, apprehension, anxiety, stress, depression, embarrassment, shame, fear, and a loss of enjoyment of life”

Camden attorney Brett Perry filed the lawsuit on behalf of the alleged victim Tony Sims and said it has two goals.

The first is to compensate Sims for his injuries.

The second is to affect change in local law enforcement.

“The citizens of Kershaw County need to know that they’re going to be served and protected by law enforcement, not treated the way Mr. Sims was,” he said.

The lawsuit alleges Boan hired Goldsmith despite his knowledge of Goldsmith’s behavior and thus should be held responsible.

“There is one person that’s in charge of all hiring and firing. Everybody at that sheriff’s office works at the pleasure of the sheriff. Every deputy who works there now, every deputy who has worked there under his tenure, worked at the pleasure of Lee Boan, including Johnathan Goldsmith,” he said.

Perry said Sims still suffers from the incident “physically and emotionally every day.”

On Nov. 1, he submitted two medical exams into public record as evidence. They outline how Sims’ jaw is broken, impeding his ability to chew and speak.

Neurologist Dr. Marshall White writes Sims needs to see a jaw surgeon.

Additionally, White writes “It is my opinion, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that Mr. Sims is having a post-concussive-type headache.”

“This is something that never should have happened,” Perry said.

“He continues to suffer the consequences of it.”

Goldsmith faces a second-degree assault and battery charge and a misconduct in office charge. The criminal case is still in its early stages.

The documents also show Boan nominated Goldsmith for the office’s 2019 Deputy of the Year award for an Oct. 30, 2019 incident where he responded to a 16-year-old autistic boy with a handgun who fired on his brother.

Boan wrote Goldsmith attempted to talk the boy down before he fired on Goldsmith and pointed the gun at his own head. He wrote Goldsmith again attempted to de-escalate the situation before the boy again began firing at Goldsmith and another deputy. Goldsmith shot the boy then gave him first aid. Boan says his “bravery and compassion” possibly saved lives.

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