SLED charges 3 Berkeley County detention deputies following investigation into misconduct

BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – State Police charged three Berkeley County detention deputies following an investigation into misconduct at the Berkeley County jail.

Affidavits from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) say Detention Deputy Avery Smith – who was one of the victim’s training officers at the time – coerced a female employee into performing sexual acts and even choked her during the assault while at the detention center.

“The defendant used his position of authority over the victim and made threats of termination to coerce her into sexual relations,” the affidavit said.

Detention Deputy Avery Smith

Affidavits provided by SLED show multiple instances of Smith making inappropriate comments or actions towards employees or inmates at the jail.

The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office said Sheriff Duane Lewis immediately requested a comprehensive investigation by State Police after initially learning of an incident between Smith and an inmate. That investigation revealed several instances of misconduct.

In another incident, Smith was escorting an inmate to her cell when he forcefully kissed her and made her touch him inappropriately, according to the affidavits.

Smith, 23, is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of misconduct in office, three counts of first-degree assault and battery, and five counts of third-degree assault and battery.

SLED also charged Sgt. Christopher Dozier III, 43, and Lt. Frankie Levar Snider, 45, with misconduct in office.

According to the affidavits, Dozier witnessed one of the assaults take place and proceeded to laugh and joke with Smith after the incident. Snider witnessed an assault and took no action against it or to report it.

Both men were Smith’s direct supervisors, according to the sheriff’s office.

“We work hard every day earning the trust and confidence of our citizens and those employees who work for us. I hope this does not impede the trust the public has with us,” said Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis. “As a result of these allegations, I immediately took steps to remove the employee and supervisors involved, and I requested SLED to conduct a full investigation into this case, and we assisted with any and all of SLED’s requests.”

“No one is above the law – including law enforcement. We will continue to conduct a top to bottom review of our policies to ensure that something like this never occurs again,” Sheriff Lewis added. “I want to recognize the hard-working men and women of the Sheriff’s Office and the Detention Center. Our Internal Affairs unit will work to ensure a comprehensive review of this incident.”

Dozier and Smith were fired from the agency for failure to intervene. Smith resigned during the investigation.

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Author: Tim Renaud