North Charleston Police Pay Millions to Settle Police Misconduct Claims
North Charleston got national attention when officer Michael Slager murdered Walter Scott, shooting him in the back as he ran after a traffic stop for a busted tail-light.
But, did you know that North Charleston has paid out over $12 million in police abuse and police misconduct settlements since 2005? That includes over $6.6 million paid by the Insurance Reserve Fund (the IRF provides insurance to government agencies and municipalities in South Carolina) and $5.5 million that the city paid from its own bank account in Walter Scott’s case.
The total amount may be even higher, as the article above does not specify amounts the city may have paid in other settlements not covered by the Insurance Reserve Fund…
What Other Settlements Has North Charleston Paid for Police Abuse?
We don’t know – all settlements with the Insurance Reserve Fund, like most settlements in any personal injury case, come with a confidentiality agreement – the plaintiff can take the money, but he or she can’t talk about it…
Media reports identify several other settlements paid by North Charleston, including three lawsuits that were filed against Michael Slager after the Walter Scott killing:
- Julius Wilson settled a police misconduct case with North Charleston for nearly $300,000 when a bystander recorded Slager tasing him in the back unnecessarily;
- Mario Givens and Jerome Stanley settled additional cases against Slager for a total of $80,000;
- James Terry settled with North Charleston for $250,000 after a North Charleston police officer punched him while he was handcuffed;
- National Guardsman and Iraq War veteran Brian Yates settled with North Charleston for $380,000 when he was unnecessarily tased three times by a police officer during a traffic stop; and
- North Charleston paid $500,000 after an officer shot teenager Carlton Pringle in the back.
How Do I File a Lawsuit for Police Abuse?
First, you get a police misconduct attorney with experience in civil rights cases. Anytime that you file suit against the government, you are going to have an uphill battle – the law, the procedure, the courts, and often the jurors may all be against you.
There are two types of lawsuits that can be brought against police officers by citizens for police abuse:
- A lawsuit under the State Tort Claims Act (SCSTCA): A tort claims act lawsuit must name the municipality (or Sheriff, in some cases) and cannot name the individual officer as a defendant. Damages are capped, and some types of damages are not available (punitive damages and attorney fees, for example). There is a two-year statute of limitations to file suit under the SCTCA.
- A 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 lawsuit: 1983 claims are filed in federal court and are based on a violation of your civil rights – in the lawsuit, you must identify which rights were violated (for example, First Amendment right to freedom of speech, Fourth Amendment right to freedom from unlawful search and seizure). You must name the individual officer and not the municipality, the statute of limitations is three years, and there is a wider range of potential damages that can be recovered – including punitive damages and attorney fees.
Criminal Defense Firm in Charleston, SC
Grant B. Smaldone is a criminal defense lawyer located in Charleston, SC. If you have been charged with a crime in Charleston, Berkeley, Georgetown, or Horry Counties or the surrounding area, call now at (843) 808-2100 or send us a message through our website to set up a free consultation about your case.