It isn't often a county sheriff gets involved in high speed pursuits, much less initiates them. But this past Monday, January 30th, Charleston County
Sheriff Al Cannon witnessed a vehicle driving recklessly through what was probably pretty heavy traffic at the time. Cutting off cars including the
sheriff's unmarked SUV, driving on the sidewalk almost hitting another vehicle and speeding. And that's just the start of this.
I'm gonna tell a long story now for background and then tell what the sheriff did.
I used to live in Charleston, and at 10 AM on a Monday morning there is usually quite a bit of traffic in the area this started. And almost none where
it ended. But here's what happened, according to filed police reports and Charlestons
Post & Courier newspaper.
After witnessing the reckless
driving, the sheriff turned on the lights in his unmarked SUV. The subject was driving North, or East...depending on how you look at it and whether
your from Charleston...lol.
After turning on his lights and siren, the sheriff reported to dispatch he was in pursuit. Fortunately...the direction they were headed was AWAY from
populated areas. At least 2 other deputies joined the pursuit. The sheriff's SUV is limited to 95 mph, but other patrol vehicles were driving 120 just
to keep up with the suspect. At some point, the suspect turned onto a dead end forest road. The sheriff blocked his path...at least partially and drew
The suspect sat for a minute about 100 yards away, then began speeding towards the sheriff again. The sheriff, who probably at this point had the
right to use deadly force, chose to shoot at the suspects tires instead. 9 times. But the suspect got past. Just for reference, I know this area.
There was nothing here. No people and no chance of anything other than a tree blown down by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, or the vehicle being hit.
The chase kept going. Other deputies placed stop sticks out, more shots fired at the suspect and finally the pursued vehicle stopped. This was
witnessed by a woman and her young daughters:
At that point the right front tire was shredded and the left rear was blown out, and the truck "skidded straight into the intersection (of Willow Hall
and Steed Creek roads), where he (McManus) bailed out and a canine caught him," Cannon said.
The end of the chase was witnessed by Kirsten Crawford, her cousin and two young children. They were out for a ride down Steed Creek Road when
deputies forced her to stop in the median just north of U.S. 17. That's where the speeding Ram swerved around the deputies' stop sticks and nearly
struck Crawford's Isuzu pickup.
Crawford said a deputy, who was close enough to touch her own vehicle, opened fire on the pickup.
"I knew the cops wouldn't shoot us," she said. "But I was worried the man was going to shoot back at the police officers."
Crawford said she covered her daughter and son in the back seat of her pickup as the bullets flew.
"We were just going out to take a leisurely ride, but it wasn't so leisurely," Crawford said. "This will be a good Facebook status: Almost shot at in
a police chase."
Cannon said he was relieved to see the chase end.
Post is from same link as above.
Yesterday, more details were released. The subject fought back even though he was outnumbered. Spit on officers, and eventually was bitten by a police
dog. He finally surrendered after the dog was released, and cuffed. The dog was quickly pulled off, but the suspect continued to fight and spit even
after finally being cuffed. Yesterday's update.
Finally, I read an update in today's Post & Courier
and was amazed
at what I saw. The sheriff who had already shot at the suspects vehicle, had probable cause to have shot at him instead and then had fought with the
subject to get him cuffed submitted a supplemental incident report to the State Law Enforcement Division.(SLED) SLED was investigating anyways because
weapons were discharged and it is state policy.
But Sheriff Al Cannon admitted his emotions got the best of him. He wrote in his report he slapped the already cuffed subject with his open hand while
yelling at him. He basically, admitted wrongdoing on his behalf at the end of the chase and admitted slapping the subject.
Cannon provided copies of a written statement he sent to SLED. In it, he confides that when the chase ended he was relieved and angry, believing
McManus had "put so many people in jeopardy."
"I approached the vehicle in which McManus, handcuffed, had been placed, openned (sic) the back door and asked him loudly, using a profanity: What the
(BLANK) is wrong with you and he replied 'Ain't nothin wrong with me man,' " Cannon said in the statement, which was written as an incident report
"At this point I slapped him once with my opened hand and said 'You could have killed a lot of people,' and slammed the door," Cannon's report
Cannon said he has no idea what penalty he might have to pay for the slap. "It's out of my hands," he said, adding that as an elected official, "it
might end up being a political issue at the polls."
We all hear every day about police brutality. And excessive force. We all complain about it. But rarely, if ever, do we hear of a LEO, especially an
elected Sheriff admitting to state investigators he did something wrong. Remember, the sheriff probably could have shot the suspect earlier on when he
was driving towards him in an aggressive manner. He and his deputies were spit at and on. This offender has a long history of this and was, not
surprisingly, driving while under suspension. 3 times. Emotions are a part of the human psyche. They affect all of us...or most all of us.
Anyone involved in this type of pursuit might have felt like doing more than slapping the guy with an open hand. But very few if any would admit it,
and then turn in official paperwork admitting his mistake. While I know hitting this guy was wrong..so does the sheriff, I will have to commend
sheriff Al Cannon for being honest. I bet this actually happens a lot. Adrenaline is racing, emotions are high. It has to happen. All the time. Yet we
only hear about it from other means. So my hats off to Sheriff Cannon. He might not have kept his cool, but he could have done a lot worse. And he
could never have said a word, and we would probably never have heard about it happening.
There was a poll today in the link from today's paper on whether the sheriff should face administrative action for slapping this guy. It was
overwhelmingly in support of the sheriff. He may have to face actions. He knows he might not get re-elected even if nothing else comes of this because
of this. Yet he chose to do the right thing and admit his mistake anyways.
We need more police like Sheriff Cannon in my opinion. The guy led the police on a 25 mile chase. Almost hitting at least 10 other vehicles and then
resisted arrest. I hope the courts do more than just "slap his wrists."
edit on 2-2-2012 by webpirate because: spelling