Orangeburg Department of Public Safety Chief Mike Adams has asked the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate his department’s handling of a charge against a man accused of injuring an officer. The charge was later dropped.
“We’ll cooperate fully,” Adams said.
Demetrius Lamont Jamison, 27, of Summers Avenue, was charged on April 26 with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. On Thursday, the 1st Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office dropped the charge, saying there was “insufficient evidence” against Jamison, according to courthouse records.
Jamison’s attorney, state Rep. Justin Bamberg, said his client spent 127 days in jail awaiting trial and should’ve been released months ago.
On Wednesday afternoon, Adams said that he’s asked the S.C. Law Enforcement Division to look into the agency’s handling of the case.
“I think it’s important to get someone who is neutral and detached to come down with a fresh set of eyes and look at the case concerning Mr. Jamison,” Adams said.
Officers encountered Jamison on April 26 as they were checking out a report of shots being fired. Officers said they asked him about bulges in his socks, and he showed them the remains of marijuana cigarettes.
Jamison attempted to flee from officers, Bamberg said. A warrant alleged during the arrest Jamison “was taken to the ground in attempts to restrain him, where the defendant then head-butted Pso. Cody Miles.”
Miles sustained multiple left orbital bone fractures and a concussion.
ODPS officers charged Jamison with ABHAN, resisting arrest and other crimes. The maximum sentence for ABHAN is 20 years in prison.
On Thursday, Jamison pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and was sentenced to time served. The ABHAN charge was dismissed.
Jamison was freed from the Orangeburg County Detention Center on Friday around 3 p.m., Bamberg said.
At a press conference at his office on Wednesday, Bamberg said, “The City of Orangeburg has an opportunity to make things right.”
Bamberg referred to an internal memo written on June 3 by ODPS Lt. Walter Smoak to ODPS Lt. Col. Ed Conner after Smoak reviewed body camera footage recorded by the officers arresting Jamison.
The memo said, in part, “It is clear that the suspect never made physical contact or attempted to make contact with Pso. Miles. This claim appears to be false. Furthermore, the suspect was charged with the crime anyway and bond was denied due to the extent of injury supposedly caused by him head-butting the officer and his threat to the public.”
Smoak states in the memo that Miles hit his head on another officer, but at no point did Jamison head-butt or attempt to assault Miles.
The memo concludes, “Following policy would have alleviated the suspect from being charged or the charges being dropped and prevent the suspect from sitting in jail without the possibility of bond.”
At Wednesday’s press conference, Bamberg stated that the City of Orangeburg can work to make things right for Jamison by making policy changes.
For instance, he said an independent investigation should be required when someone in leadership says someone is lying.
Bamberg said the SLED probe is one of the ways to bring justice to Jamison.
“I’m glad to see the chief agreed with us, although I question what has changed between now and the date the memo was first created outside of the fact that this injustice has been made public,” Bamberg said Wednesday evening.
Bamberg is also calling for financial compensation and a public apology from the City of Orangeburg.
“We have every expectation that at the end of the day the political leadership and the decision-makers with the City of Orangeburg and their lawyers will do the right thing, when for over 127 days – their agents, their actors, their representatives – did wrong,” Bamberg said.
“Mr. Jamison deserves, at the very least, a public apology because what they did to him was wrong. It’s inexcusable and it’s something that, hopefully, at the end of this process, we’ll never see happen again,” Bamberg said.
Bamberg said he’s not filing a lawsuit against the city at this time.
“I don’t know why the city should make us file a lawsuit to force them to do the right thing,” he said.
Jamison has other charges stemming from the April 26 arrest: third-degree assault and battery, loitering and simple possession of marijuana.
At a June 7 bench trial in Orangeburg, without representation by an attorney, Jamison was found guilty of third-degree assault and battery, loitering and simple possession of marijuana.
Bamberg said the third-degree assault charge accused Jamison of injuring the leg of one of the arresting officers. Bamberg said Jamison didn’t injure that officer either.
He’s asked ODPS to drop that charge.
Bamberg has handled a number of high-profile cases involving officers, including representing the estate of Walter Scott, who was killed by an officer in North Charleston.