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Swansea police chief back at work after SLED investigation

The Swansea Police Department and the Lexington County Sheriff's Office requested SLED to help...
The Swansea Police Department and the Lexington County Sheriff's Office requested SLED to help investigate the incident involving Chief Earl Williams III.(Swansea Police Department)
Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 11:11 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Swansea chief of police is back at work after a SLED investigation.

Chief Earl Williams confirmed he is back at work and no longer on administrative leave. The department asked for a SLED investigation following a citizen complaint about use of force.

Joe Phillips filed the complaint, saying that Williams used excessive force during an arrest on March 30, 2022 outside the Police Department. He said the incident left him with cuts and bruises on his arms, shoulders, and head and damage to a prosthetic leg.

Williams’ report says Phillips arrived at the station to complain about another Swansea officer and a town ordinance on mobile homes. Williams wrote Phillips became irate and began to use profanity, and warned him, “we would not continue talking if he was going to speak to me like that.”

In the report Phillips is quoted as saying “F--- you N-----,” before Williams tells him he’s under arrest. Williams writes Phillips attempted to rotate in the driver’s seat while being restrained and eventually told him, “Let me go or I’m going to run your Black a-- over.”

Joe Phillips filed a use of force complaint against Chief Williams.
Joe Phillips filed a use of force complaint against Chief Williams.(Lexington County Detention Center)

The report then says Phillips put his truck in reverse and hit Williams with a car door. To avoid getting run over Williams said he jumped onto the running boards. The two men wrestled for control of the vehicle before Williams put it in park.

Williams account says he removed him from the vehicle and handcuffed the man before EMS arrived. Williams wrote that he was able to turn his body camera on at this point in the incident. Phillips was transferred to Lexington Medical Center for treatment.

Phillips is charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and assault on a law enforcement officer. Williams says the incident was captured on nearby surveillance cameras and the portion he had his body camera on for.

A spokesperson for SLED responded to WIS’s request for an update on the investigation, “The SLED investigation involving the Swansea Police Chief is still open. No other details are available at this time as agents continue to investigate.”

WIS 10 News spoke with Phillips about the incident and his recollection of events.

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SLED investigating Swansea police chief incident

We have embedded the full incident report below with redactions for the profanity.

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