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Ex-Branchville officer accused of giving beer to minor

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A former Branchville officer is facing charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and giving beer to a minor.

The S.C. Law Enforcement Division charged Damien Desray Hartwell, 27, of Walterboro, on Wednesday.

The Branchville Police Department terminated Hartwell on Monday for allegedly “lying about contributing to the delinquency of a minor,” according to records obtained from the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy.

Hartwell’s warrants allege he was working at his secondary job at a Branchville gas station on May 21 when, just before 9:30 p.m., he “overheard a phone conversation that the juvenile was having with a friend, also a minor.”

“The juvenile was looking for someone to buy beer,” the warrant alleges.

The warrant claims Hartwell, “offered to purchase beer and was given a debit card by the juvenile.”

Hartwell allegedly purchased the beer from the gas station using the juvenile’s debit card “and placed the case of Natural Light beer in the backseat of the juvenile’s truck,” the warrant states.

On June 7, during a voluntary interview, Hartwell allegedly admitted to buying the case of Natural Light beer and giving it to the juvenile, the warrant states.

Hartwell “stated he know the juvenile was under the age of 21” at the time, the warrant claims.

The warrant states the incident was recorded by the store’s surveillance video.

Hartwell’s law enforcement career began at the Eutawville Police Department on April 10, 2017

He worked for a year as an officer there and, by July 2018, he began serving as interim police chief after the resignation of then-chief Steven Holloway.

On May 27, 2020, Hartwell resigned from the Eutawville position to begin working for Branchville, according to SCCJA records.

On Wednesday, Orangeburg County Magistrate Gary Doremus released Hartwell on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond.

Hartwell did not respond to a request for comments about the allegations.

If Hartwell is convicted, he faces up to three years in prison and a $3,000 fine.

Contact the writer: mbrown@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD.

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