Deputy fired after trying to arrest soldier at bar

Published: Oct. 15, 2013 at 7:36 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 31, 2013 at 6:09 PM EDT
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Paul Allen Derrick
Paul Allen Derrick

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A little more than a week after he decided to handcuff a woman at a sports bar, Richland County deputy Allen Derrick is out of a job.

On October 7 at Buffalo Wild Wings on Devine Street, Derrick, 49, approached 23-year-old Brittany Ball, a female soldier at Fort Jackson, in an apparent attempt to calm her down after she became emotional.

But it's not clear why Derrick thought it was necessary to go out to his truck get his handcuffs, gun and badge and return to the bar, where he handcuffed her and began shouting at her.

WIS first heard last week that video of the incident existed and that it was likely going to be a serious problem for Derrick.

On Tuesday, WIS learned that Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott decided to fire Derrick, apparently for violating department policy in handcuffing and detaining Ball. Lott made the decision shortly before he met with Interim Columbia Police Chief Ruben Santiago and Fifth Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson.

Some of the issues in that meeting surely centered on why Derrick took action, whether he was following department policy and state law, and how the police department responded in the process of arresting him.

"It made me angry, and then it made me sick and disgustedthat any law enforcement officer would act that way, particularly a RichlandCounty deputy," Lott said Wednesday during a news conference. "There's absolutely no excuse for his behavior andwhat he did that night. He interjected himself into something that he should ofnever gotten involved in."

Derrick served in public service as a Columbia firefighter and for the last 14 years as a Richland County deputy.

The events on the patio at Buffalo Wild Wings a little more than a week ago were captured on cell phone video shot by customer and Ball's fellow soldier, Steven "WaWa" Hughes.

"I said I'm going to start videoing this because I think something is about to get out of hand," said Hughes. "And about the time I got my video out, he had her turned around and was putting her in handcuffs.

The video, showing Derrick shouting at Ball as he yanked and twisted the handcuff chains, sparked outrage from many who saw it.
It also played a role in a decision by Columbia police arriving at the scene to order Ball released while they took Derrick into custody, charging him with assault and battery.

Last week, Lott disagreed with the police action, saying Derrick had authority to make an arrest and suggesting Ball may have been resisting.

But a state attorney general's opinion does not appear to support the sheriff.
In 2009, that office cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that determined a Class 3 officer like Derrick is limited in his law enforcement authority, and "without statutory authority to detain a suspect until another officer arrives..."

Despite the disagreement, Santiago downplayed any friction with the sheriff's department.

"Especially in sensitive situations like this when we have police officers dealing with police officers, we want to make sure we're very respectful to those agencies," said Santiago. "Because... that harmony between our agencies is crucial."

Another issue to be determined is whether Derrick had legal clearance to take his gun into a place that served alcohol.

That is an issue often determined by specific agency policy.

Santiago and Lott declined comment on the specifics of the case Tuesday.

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