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KCSO civil lawsuit records show history of documented concerns before deputy’s alleged assault

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Published: May. 25, 2022 at 6:12 PM EDT|Updated: May. 25, 2022 at 7:07 PM EDT
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LUGOFF, S.C. (WIS) - WIS has obtained court records showing the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office was alerted multiple times to concerns surrounding a former deputy before he allegedly assaulted a suspect, leading to criminal charges and a $1.5 million civil lawsuit settlement.

Application forms, a deputy deposition, a citizen complaint, re-training documents and an admission by the sheriff’s office shows at least six different documented instances where law enforcement officers, the public or the military reported problems or concerns with Johnathan Goldsmith’s behavior.

Documents show at least four of those complaints/concerns were presented to Sheriff Lee Boan or Chief Deputy Tyrrell Coleman.

Goldsmith and Boan have faced a series of legal troubles since an October 2020 incident launched Goldsmith’s arrest and the lawsuit payout. Goldsmith allegedly knocked out Tony Sims, tased him, closed a car door on his leg and did not render aid immediately.

RELATED COVERAGE

Goldsmith faces charges for assault and misconduct in office over the incident. SLED reports having three open investigations into him (including the October 2020 incident).

Both he and Boan face two additional lawsuits for separate instances related to his behavior on the job.

Part one of this investigation found Boan made a “greatest hits” video of Goldsmith tackling a suspect while they were together at the Camden Police Department.

Boan and Goldsmith’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment.

Boan did post on Facebook in relation to the October 2020 incident:

LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT WITH MR TONY SIMS I am pleased that the lawsuit filed by Mr. Tony Sims has been settled and is in...

Posted by Sheriff Lee Boan on Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Writing:

I am pleased that the lawsuit filed by Mr. Tony Sims has been settled and is in the process of being finalized in the courts. It was the right thing to do. I hope he has closure and can move on with his life. I sincerely apologize to Mr. Sims and the citizens of Kershaw County for the actions of my former deputy. He was hired by me. Like all deputies, he was my responsibility.

I was the first person to publicly admit my former deputy’s actions with Mr. Sims were unacceptable. He was terminated three months before SLED’s investigation was completed. I do not condone his actions. Unfortunately, I cannot go back in time and change what happened. We can only make every effort to prevent this type of incident from reoccurring in the future.

This one incident does NOT reflect the culture of your KCSO. We have responded to over 100,000 calls since I took office. The action of one former deputy during one incident does NOT define your KCSO. It is unfortunate in today’s society that a single bad incident gets more attention than thousands of good encounters law enforcement officers have with citizens every day. I am in no way trying to overlook or downplay this bad incident. However, I ask that you do not let all the good encounters your KCSO deputies do daily get overlooked or downplayed either.

Earlier on Wednesday, he posted on Facebook, appearing to respond to part one of this investigation:

I DON’T WORK FOR ANY ATTORNEY OR NEWS REPORTER I don’t have to answer to any attorney or news reporter. I ONLY have to...

Posted by Sheriff Lee Boan on Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Writing:

I DON’T WORK FOR ANY ATTORNEY OR NEWS REPORTER

I don’t have to answer to any attorney or news reporter. I ONLY have to answer to the good citizens of Kershaw County. I will do this on my page without their slant and lies getting mixed in.

Due to the current “real news” (Texas school shooting), I respectfully refuse to go back and forth with anyone’s twisted allegations from incidents that took place years ago.

Stand by… I will give my side of the story to the citizens of Kershaw County when the timing is appropriate.

#PrayForTexas

What the court records show

A Nov. 2021 WIS investigation showed Boan was notified twice of concerns surrounding Goldsmith’s behavior prior to the October 2020 incident.

New court records obtained in the aftermath of the October 2020 lawsuit settlement shows at least four more instances where concerns were documented about Goldsmith’s behavior.

S.C. Criminal Justice Academy records show Goldsmith served with the Camden Police Department from May 2, 2016 to Sept. 6, 2018.

Court records include an application questionnaire for the Camden Police Department, he checked “YES” to the question:

While in the service did you ever receive any court-martial or other form of disciplinary action?

He explained below:

While deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, I was involved in an incident with another soldier which got out of hand. The punishment which was given, was an article 15, 40 days of extra duty and a fine. No loss of rank occurred during the incident.

Boan served multiple stints with the Camden Police Department.

His final stint started before and ended after Goldsmith’s time at the department.

It’s unclear if Boan reviewed Goldsmith’s application questionnaire.

Sims attorneys argued in the civil suit that Goldsmith was under the direct command of Boan at the time, citing emails Boan sent about Goldsmith.

The emails are from Boan to various actors about Goldsmith’s hiring.

After his time at the Camden Police Department, Goldsmith worked at the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office from Sept. 10, 2018 to Jan. 29, 2019.

He submitted his application to FCSO on June 22, 2018.

He responded “yes” to the question if he had received disciplinary action in the military, writing:

While deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 I was given an Article 15 for simple assault.

Goldsmith’s application to the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office was not present in the court evidence. WIS has submitted a FOIA request for the document from the sheriff’s office.

2- Camden Police Department Use of Force Review: July 2018

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 department wide 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 that all his uses of force were within policy, but leaders were concerned with the quantity of incidents.

The incidents were not seen as excessive force.

Leadership planned training for Goldsmith on de-escalation.

Camden Police Department records show department leadership reviewed two specific incidents with Goldsmith on June 26, 2018.

For both incidents, Goldsmith and Camden PD leadership discussed sections of the body camera footage and “explored other tactics that could have been used.”

One incident involved Goldsmith tackling suspect Roosevelt Lee on June 18, 2018. Court documents state Boan would later download the footage and made a “greatest hits” video from it, complete with football tackles and music.

Lee was arrested for resisting arrest and crack cocaine possession. Neither charge was prosecuted.

The other incident began on June 4, 2018.

In his incident report, Goldsmith wrote he responded to car vs. pole crash. He wrote he was attempting to speak to the driver when Justin Izzard and another suspect drove up to the scene.

He wrote the other suspect was non-compliant and balled his fist “getting himself ready to fight.”

Here is Goldsmith’s body cam footage of the incident:

Goldsmith wrote:

A second suspect Justin Izzard emerged from the vehicle the first suspect was riding in and started running to my location with his hand underneath his shirt and inside the front of his pants as if he was concealing a weapon.

Goldsmith wrote both Izzard and the other suspect began interfering with the investigation, yelling, cursing and attempting to get the crowd to join them. He wrote they continued to approach Goldsmith.

Goldsmith wrote he believed Izzard may be armed, so he decided to detain him. He wrote:

He snatched away after I had already told him to place his hands behind his back. He then balled up both his fist and squatted taking a fighter’s stance as he reached into the front of his pants again.

Goldsmith wrote he deployed the pepper spray, and tackled Izzard as he began to run away. Goldsmith wrote Izzard remained non-compliant and he delivered to strikes with his hand to prevent Izzard from drawing a weapon.

An incident report supplemental written by Sgt. Keith Strickland confirmed Goldsmith’s narrative from the point of the tackle.

Izzard was arrested for trespassing, resisting arrest and interfering with a municipal officer.

The Kershaw County court public index does not show any records of Izzard being prosecuted for the incident.

There are conflicts between Goldsmith’s body camera footage and his narrative.

It’s unclear if Izzard is attempting to agitate the crowd.

Additionally, Izzard appears to have his hand outside of his pants.

3- Citizen complaint about Goldsmith: Sept. 12, 2019

Court records include a complaint filed by Florence resident Sheila Beristain about Goldsmith’s behavior toward her on Sept. 12, 2019.

She wrote she was filming a traffic accident on a traffic easement, then moved to the median for a better view.

Beristain wrote Goldsmith told her to go back across the road, but she argued she had a legal right to be there.

She then wrote:

He then started pushing me and when I told him not to touch me, he then throwe me face down in the middle of the [illegible] then picked me up.

She said Goldsmith pushed her against the car and ultimately into the car.

Goldsmith wrote in his incident report he assisted highway patrol for a “severe collision” on Highway 521 near exit 98.

He wrote Beristain walked into the roadway in front of traffic and ultimately into the active scene.

Goldsmith wrote that he told her to leave the scene multiple times and she refused.

He wrote he attempted to escort her off the scene when she “swatted at my hand with her fist.”

Goldsmith wrote he used a wrist lock on her and was walking her when she tripped on her feet. He wrote he and another deputy placed her in handcuffs and removed her from the road and into Goldsmith’s vehicle.

Goldsmith wrote he kept her in the vehicle until the scene was clear and took her back to her car.

Court records include Beristain’s recording of the scene. It shows her cross the road that had traffic and approach the wreck with responders still working the scene.

Goldsmith approaches her and tells her to leave. Moments later, Beristain appears to fall. It’s unclear from the video what led to it.

Here is Beristain’s recording of the incident:

Boan did not respond to interview requests for this story, but a KCSO Facebook post from January 2020 attaches a YouTube link to the full video and expresses frustration with Beristain’s actions.

The post reads:

THIS IS A SAMPLE OF WHAT LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS HAVE TO DEAL WITH THESE DAYS

This YouTube video was made by a lady who travels around South Carolina trying to provoke law enforcement officers into violating her rights. In this video, she is at the scene of a traffic accident that took place in Camden a few months ago. One of the people involved in the accident lost their life that day. She didn’t care. Making her video is far more important than someone’s life.

The video she made clearly shows how she was recording from the side of the road. No first responder made any attempt to “violate her rights”. That wasn’t good enough for her. She then chose to walk across a busy road (you can actually hear a truck horn blowing as she dodges traffic) to get closer to the accident location. At that time, a deputy advised her to go back to the safe side of the road. She refused. The deputy then tried to escort her to the safe side of the road. She then fell down and rolled around in the road in an effort to make our deputy look like he was assaulting an “innocent citizen”. She later states, “I do this for a living...I know the law”.

Feel free to watch the video that she chose to blast out on YouTube and make your own decision between these two options: 1) Did our deputy violate her rights to play in traffic in order to video someone’s deceased family member? Or, 2) Did our deputy look out for her best interest by moving her out of traffic and possibly preventing her from being struck by a vehicle?

4- Tasering a man who had his hands up: April 2020

WIS first uncovered an April 2020 incident in a Nov. 2021 investigation, where Goldsmith was reprimanded for tasering a man who had his hands up.

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” appeared to be 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 wrote Goldsmith received a written reprimand for his actions and then a verbal reprimand with Knafelc and Lt. Chris Boykin on April 24, 2020.

Knafelc wrote 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.

Body camera footage obtained through court records confirms Knafelc’s narrative.

5- Alleged interference with a murder suspect: June 2020

A deposition with KCSO Lt. Brad Gerrald shows he made a complaint to both Boan and Coleman about Goldsmith’s treatment of a murder suspect, arguing it interfered with him securing a potential confession.

Gerrald said:

We were standing on the porch at the location where the suspect had gone back to, I believe it was the suspect’s home. We were standing on the front porch, and Goldsmith and the suspect had gotten into some sort of verbal dispute. I think it was over a telephone, maybe his phone rang, something along those lines.

And Goldsmith was standing there, I was standing there, and the suspect was sitting down in a chair at the front door of the house. It was on a covered porch. And they got to kind of going back and forth with each other.

And Goldsmith snatched him up, pulled him down the steps and placed him against a car. And I stepped in between them and told him I had it. I said, “Man, just back up. I got it. Let me take care of it. There’s no sense in this.”

He said he made a complaint to Boan and Coleman the same day.

At some point that day, I don’t remember how recent or the time frame from the time I went from where we were at to the sheriff’s office, I met Tyrrell Coleman and Sheriff Lee Boan coming out the back door.

I was aggravated about it because I thought I could have got a confession from the suspect, and I thought he messed that up. So I was aggravated about it. I told them what -- same thing I just told you what he did. And I went on about my way.

Gerrald said he spoke to former KCSO Deputy Mike Lyons.

Gerrald said he was told by Lyons that it had been communicated to him “it was a murder suspect.”

He said he got the impression nothing was going to be done because of the alleged crime.

That it was a murder suspect, nothing was goingto be done with it.

He later said:

I’m not saying it was unjustified or a extreme use of force, if you will. What I’m saying is I saw where any force wasn’t unnecessary. And I felt like he took away any abilities of mine to get a confession from the suspect.

In court filings, the attorneys for Sims said the suspect in question was John Kevin Jones, who had been arrested for the shooting death of Orlando Donte Priester.

Kershaw County court records show Jones pled guilty on May 19, 2022 to manslaughter and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

6- Deputies express concerns to Chief Deputy Coleman: Date(s) unknown

Court records show an admission by KCSO that two deputies spoke with Coleman about concerns with Goldsmith’s behavior.

Court records involved in the $1.5 million lawsuit settlement include a response from the sheriff’s office to interrogatories from Sims’ attorneys. It stated Deputy Ben Royalty and Lt. Brian Norris contacted Coleman.

Deputy Royalty and Lt. Norris verbally communicated to Major Tyrell Coleman that they believed Johnathan Goldsmith was “aggressive.” However, the date and time of this verbal communication is unknown. Upon information and belief, this verbal communication was not documented.

The plaintiff attorneys refer to “Norris” as “Morris” in subsequent paperwork.

It’s unclear when Royalty and Norris/Morris’ comments were made, what they were in reference to, or if they were made together.

Additionally, it’s unclear why no record was made of their comments or what Coleman did with the information.

Coleman did not respond to a request for an interview on this investigation.

Attorneys for Sims filed a separate lawsuit against Goldsmith and Boan where a state trooper allegedly informed Morris of concerns about Goldsmith’s behavior.

It’s unclear if that’s related.

Goldsmith’s training

Beyond the April 2020 reprimands and Summer 2018 reviews, it’s unclear what actions were taken in response to concerns of Goldsmith’s behavior.

However, court depositions do suggest Goldsmith taught other deputies use of force tactics up until the month he was fired.

The depositions present different dates of when this took place.

In KCSO Capt. Chris Boykin’s deposition, Sims attorney Robert Butcher asks about a Nov. 10, 2020 hobble restraint class.

Boykin confirmed Goldsmith taught the class. Butcher asked if Goldsmith made any inappropriate comments.

Boykin responded:

I believe somebody had asked a question. He said, you can do it like this, or you can just knock them out like I do.

Boykin said the deputies in attendance varied in experience on the job.

Butcher asked if anyone made complaints about Goldsmith’s comments.

I heard that Lieutenant Morris on a different date made a complaint. I just heard through people talking.

Lt. William West also confirmed Goldsmith taught a hobble course. He was also questioned if Goldsmith said “If you knock them out like I do, you do not have to use this technique.”

I think I do recall him saying something like that. It’s hard to remember everything they say. But I do believe that he may have said that, to be honest with you.

West said that class was the only one he’d ever attended where Goldsmith was teaching. No date is included in the deposition.

Lt. Brad Gerrald’s deposition refers to the class being in November. He also confirmed Goldsmith taught it. Gerrald was asked about any inappropriate comments.

There was a comment. I can’t tell you what it is because I don’t remember, but yes, there was something he said in there that I did not agree with.

Gerrald said he did not raise the issue with the command staff.

The deposition of Capt. Kevin Lynch includes an attorney for Sims’ asking about a course on Nov. 12, 2020.

Lynch confirmed he attended, and Goldsmith taught it. He said he did not recall any inappropriate comments nor was informed of any.

SLED confirmed it received a request to begin the investigation into the October 2020 incident on Oct. 27, 2020.

Goldsmith was fired on Nov. 13, 2020.

While Goldsmith taught a technique, it’s unclear if his field training was completed when he was hired by KCSO.

Lynch’s deposition includes an explanation that KCSO’s field training program includes a manual which is supposed to include signatures of field training officers when they have explained certain procedures and policies to the new deputy.

Additionally, there are boxes for training officers to sign off the deputy has performed the duty.

Goldsmith’s field training manual was empty. Lynch said he did not know why this was the case. He said:

Either it was done and just didn’t fill it out, or it just was never done.

What a source with direct knowledge of KCSO says

WIS spoke with a source with direct knowledge of Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office operations and culture.

They described Goldsmith as “heavy-handed,” routinely taking force to the “upper limit” of what was in compliance with office policy.

The source said they did not know if Boan was aware of Goldsmith’s behavior, but believes Chief Deputy Tyrrell Coleman should have been aware.

Two anonymous letters purportedly written to Boan and Coleman are present in the court records.

The letters reference Goldsmith among other topics and express frustration with Boan’s actions and inactions towards the deputy.

The source said they did feel there was widespread frustration with Boan’s failure to correct Goldsmith’s behavior and sudden dismissal.

In their view, the department had a “serious morale problem.”

The source said deputies are often afraid to speak out due to fears of Boan “black-balling” them from future law enforcement jobs.

To improve conditions at the sheriff’s office, the source suggested both Boan and Coleman leave the office so KCSO can “turn itself around.”

Additionally, the source said officers need more training than what the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy provides before they are put in life-or-death situations.

What Sims attorneys say and moving forward

WIS spoke with Camden attorneys Brett Perry and Robert Butcher. They filed the October 2020 lawsuit on behalf of Sims.

They are working together on a second lawsuit against Boan and Goldsmith involving a Feb. 2020 traffic stop representing a different plaintiff.

Additionally, Perry filed a third lawsuit against Boan and Goldsmith over a Nov. 2019 traffic stop for a third plaintiff.

Perry said he initially thought Boan was going to be a “good” sheriff. South Carolina elections contribution data shows the Perry Law Firm made a $250 contribution to Boan’s campaign on Dec. 4, 2018.

“But as time went on, he disappointed me in every possible way,” he said.

Butcher said they compiled the evidence through a series of records requests.

“It just kept getting bigger and more of a nightmare as we continued to dig,” he said.

Perry said the complaints to Coleman about Goldsmith’s behavior still fall on Boan.

“I understand that when you’re in a leadership position like that, you have to allow your subordinates to manage things. But there are also clearly things that need to be brought to the leader’s attention and if they’re not being brought to the leader’s attention, ultimately that’s the leaders fault because he’s tolerating it. He’s allowing it,” Perry said.

In reference to Goldsmith’s empty training manual, Perry said an explanation was never found.

Butcher said it’s unclear if there were any consequences for the empty manual.

“He was just allowed to come and utilize all the bad habits he had learned,” Butcher said.

Perry and Butcher said they want Boan to be successful, and described some deputies as “outstanding,” but said pressure is needed for Boan to institute change.

Court evidence shows Boan created a use of force board in the aftermath of the Goldsmith incident, with the power to review incidents and flag them for the command staff.

The source with direct knowledge described the board as a “step in the right direction.”

Gerrald’s deposition said both he and Lynch served.

Perry said the creation of the board is “great,” but pointed to Gerrald’s complaint about Goldsmith.

“If you don’t follow their advice, then what was the point in having them there to start with?”

Butcher said the office needs “a complete overhaul in the mentality and the leadership skills.”

“If we can’t do anything, then he needs to pull in a number two who’s going to be able to straighten things out,” he said.

Chief Deputy Tyrrell Coleman did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Boan is running for re-election unopposed in the November election.

Butcher said he’s looking for changes which improve public safety.

“My children, my grandchildren, my wife, my friends, they need to be able to walk the streets and drive through the streets of Kershaw County and know that they’re not going to be harmed by law enforcement if they encounter them,” he said.

Butcher said the collection of evidence on Goldsmith and Boan will continue as the other court cases progress.

In May, Boan suspended an unnamed deputy and asked for SLED investigation after a video went viral of the deputy punching a suspect.

In April, SLED agents arrested former KCSO Deputy Cody Blackmon over a domestic violence incident with his ex-wife. Blackmon declined to comment on this story.

In March, former Kershaw County deputy Andrew Arledge resigned.

His S.C. Criminal Justice Academy records show he was under an internal affairs investigation for a non-criminal use of force incident.

WIS was unsuccessful in contacting Arledge.

Copyright 2022 WIS. All rights reserved.

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