South Carolina resident Gregory McDaniel was shot twice in October 2012 during a police drug raid where he lost a kidney as a result of his injuries.
The raid was carried out by three sheriff’s departments, but only the Fairfield County Sheriff Office is listed in the police report.
However, three years later, state investigators and prosecutors have refused to release the names of the deputies involved. Specifically, the one who shot him.
McDaniel said he was sleeping when the predawn drug raid started. He said he walked out of a bedroom after being awakened by deputies pounding and kicking in the door. He said they did not identify themselves as law enforcement before shooting him in the leg.
After he fell down screaming, McDaniel said the deputy told him he didn’t know why he fired his gun, then shot him again in the chest.
According to the Augusta Chronicle:
“If I don’t know who it is, I can’t sue them,” he said. “The officer put a gun in his side and blew out a kidney. He has more than $1 million in medical bills. It doesn’t make sense.”
In only three of South Carolina’s 145 police shootings from 2009 to 2012 have the names of the officers involved not been released, according to a database created by The Post and Courier of Charleston.
It is very common for police reports to be vague in details and the description of facts. Moreover, some law enforcement agencies do not even give a narrative in public police reports.
The main excuse for such non-disclosure is cited as “police investigative material”. Therefore, the information in the police report can’t be disclosed to the public or media because the information may or may not be used in court.
However, it appears the secrecy behind the deputy’s name in this case is a concern of millions of dollars and liability.
If McDaniel only sues the three sheriff departments involved in the raid, he would receive no more than $300,000 because of state law.
But, if McDaniel sues the actual deputy that shot him, under civil rights violations McDaniel could receive an uncapped financial settlement.
In order for McDaniel to sue for the uncapped civil rights lawsuit – the suit must be filed within three years of the shooting.
And the deadline is in three weeks with no names being released.
McDaniel has incurred $1 million in medical bills as a result of the October 2012 shooting.
The decision to release the names falls on South Carolina Solicitor Randy Newman. But he blames his long-awaited response on more than 150 cases coming to his desk a month.
McDaniel believes Newman is stalling the public release of the name in an attempt to avoid any and all lawsuits.
Newman, who took office in January, vowing to reduce the backlog in cases, stated:
“That’s not the only one on my desk, I’m not releasing anything else at this time,”
McDaniel sued all three sheriffs and their departments as well as the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and 20 of what the lawsuit calls “John Doe” officers.
The Freedom of Information Act lawsuit said SLED has turned down freedom of information requests that sought more information about the shooting.
SLED has a detailed report that actually contains descriptive facts and statements from the deputies involved. But, SLED Spokesman Thom Berry said,
“The report cannot be released because the case is still open.”
It is reported that SLED has been sued by The AP and The Aiken Standard newspaper over its refusal to release dashboard camera video in a fatal police shooting involving a North Augusta officer. The officer in the North Augusta incident has been charged with a felony.
It is not clear what evidence they found in McDaniel’s residence, but he is still awaiting trial on a cocaine trafficking charge from the raid.