Sheriff releases video of alleged brutality by deputies in SC

Published: Dec. 11, 2012 at 3:29 PM CST
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Devante Pittman's booking photo from the arrest. (Source: CCDC)
Devante Pittman's booking photo from the arrest. (Source: CCDC)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston County Sheriff's Office in South Carolina has released footage of an encounter between three deputies and a 19-year-old man which has resulted in a lawsuit alleging brutality and injustice.

The lawsuit, filed by Attorney Lionel Lofton on behalf of 19-year-old Devante Pittman, alleges three deputies, and one in particular, used excessive force during a traffic stop in West Ashley on Nov. 11.

The video released late Monday appears to back up Pittman's claims.

According to the lawsuit, Pittman was driving his Dodge Charger on Savannah Highway around 11 p.m. when he turned onto Orleans Road and noticed flashing blue lights from two Charleston County Sheriff's Office cruisers behind him.

Pittman's attorney said his client immediately pulled over near the Monster Music on Orleans Road and began to search for his driver's license and vehicle registration.

At that time, the lawsuit states Deputy Christopher Davis approached the window and told Pittman he was being stopped and ticketed for failure to use his turn signal.

The lawsuit states Pittman told Davis he thought he had used his turn signal, which prompted Davis to reach his right hand through the open window on the driver's side and strike Pittman in the face, repeatedly, with a flashlight.

Pittman's attorney said two other deputies, James Howard and Gilbert Baldwin, then walked over and helped Davis force Pittman from the vehicle.

The lawsuit alleges as Howard and Baldwin restrained Pittman, Davis pulled the back of Pittman's head and repeatedly struck him in the face with his right fist.

The lawsuit states "the force of Davis's blows was so severe that one of [Pittman's] teeth, along with some of the bone attached to the tooth, was knocked out."

"I can tell you he did absolutely nothing to provoke it and for whatever reason, they beat the living you know what out of him," Lofton said. "This young man's civil rights were violated. There was excessive force."

Since he did not provoke or resist the abuse, Pittman was also wrongly charged with assault and battery of a law enforcement officer, the lawsuit alleges.

Major Jim Brady with the sheriff's office said Deputy Davis had been placed on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of an internal investigation.  The State Law Enforcement Division is also involved.

The other two deputies are still on active duty, according to Brady.

Brady also said the sheriff's office would wait until they were served with the lawsuit before providing a statement .

Copyright 2012 WCSC.  All rights reserved.