Criminal case dismissed against former deputy accused of pulling hair

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Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 10:37 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) A Richland County judge dismissed a criminal assault case against a former Richland County Sheriff’s Deputy Tuesday.

Judge Philip Newsom dismissed the case against Kyle Oliver after the alleged victim didn’t show up to court and discovery wasn’t provided to the defense by the prosecution.

Oliver faced a 3rd degree assault and battery charge for a Jan. 2020 incident where Oliver pulled a suspect down by her hair.

Oliver and his attorney Derrick Mobley declined an interview request after the judge’s ruling but did Mobley did say they were “pleased” with the outcome.

Gerardo Maldonado represented the Richland County Sheriff’s Department as the prosecution at the hearing and declined to comment after the hearing.

RCSD issued a statement Tuesday morning in response to the dismissal,

“The Richland County Sheriff’s Department is aware that this morning charges were dropped against Kyle Oliver. “We did the right thing by charging and arresting him,” said Sheriff Lott.

“This does not change that what he did was wrong and there should be no doubt that I will continue to hold my deputies to a much higher standard.”

”The defendant, through his attorney, moved to dismiss the case for lack of prosecution because the victim, Cierra Davis, failed to appear for court as well as for procedural discovery violations. The Honorable Philip Newsome dismissed the case due to Ms. Davis’s failure to appear. The Judge specifically found that Ms. Davis had notice to appear and her civil attorney, Ryan Andrews, was present in the courtroom. Mr. Andrews informed the court that he had attempted to get in touch with his client, Ms. Davis, and was unsuccessful. As a result, the case was dismissed.”

Cierra Davis was the alleged victim in the case. She was not present in the courtroom, but her attorney Ryan Andrews was.

Mobley motioned to have the case dismissed because the prosecution had been notified of the trial date but did not have Davis, its material witness, present.

Andrews told the judge Davis was aware of the hearing and had communicated plans to be there. He said he did not know why Davis was not in attendance and expressed concern that her failure to appear and communicate with him was out of character.

Maldanado asked for a continuance of the trial to arrange with Davis, which Newsom denied.

Mobley gave Newsom a packet which he described as containing a timeline of the case and how he had not been provided discovery despite requesting it and bringing the issue before a judge.

Mobley said the only information about the case he’d been able to glean was through news station reports.

In a back and forth between Mobley, Maldanado and Newsom, questions were raised about what role, if any, the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s office played in the case.

Maldanado said he was not sure what caused the discovery delay and that the RCSD legal team and the solicitor’s office were in communication. Solicitor Byron Gipson told WIS his office was not in charge of prosecuting the case.

He said the discovery had been provided to Oliver’s attorney in his civil case.

Mobley reiterated the need for information to defend his client and Davis’ absence.

Newsom said Davis should have known to appear and decided to dismiss the case.

Andrews said he disagreed with the judge’s ruling.

“Situations like this happen a lot in criminal proceedings, it is what it is,” he said.

He pointed to Oliver’s civil attorney having a “mountain” of evidence, calling issues around the discovery “frustrating.”

The ruling appears to bring an end to litigation surrounding a Jan. 2020 hair pulling incident.

In June of this year the attorney for the alleged victim, Cierra Davis, confirmed the civil case over the incident settled $72,000.

Sheriff Leon Lott fired and arrested Oliver in Sept. 2020 after being notified about the incident by a source outside the department.

At the Sept. 2020 news conference, he raised questions about conflicts between Oliver’s reporting of events and what was reflected in his use of force report. Additionally, he criticized department leadership for not catching the discrepancy.

A Jan. 2021 WIS investigation found the deputies listed in the use of force reports filed around the incident were all either fired or had left the department while the supervisors remained in positions to review future reports.

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