An 86-year-old Kingstree man is slowly recovering after officers used a stun gun on him in an Oct. 16 incident, the man’s attorney said.
On Friday morning, Rep. Justin Bamberg, D-Bamberg, the attorney representing Albert Chatfield and his family, announced that they’ve reached a $900,000 settlement with the Town of Kingstree.
By Friday afternoon, the Town of Kingstree posted on its Facebook page, in part, “We are aware that Mr. Chatfield sustained unforeseen and unintended injuries during this incident. We are sorry that he was injured. As you are aware, we have reached a resolution of all legal claims by or on behalf of Mr. Chatfield quickly.”
Bamberg said the parties reached the settlement on Nov. 10.
Chatfield’s daughter, Jodi Mack, appeared with Bamberg at a Friday morning press conference in Bamberg.
“Our lives have been permanently changed,” she said, “I don’t have the same person I had a month ago.”
She said her father has been in the intensive care unit for a month now.
“My brothers and sisters and nephews are taking round-the-clock shifts,” she said.
“We still have him here and we’re grateful we still have him here,” she added.
Mack said although her father’s condition is improving, he continues to suffer.
“He’ll never be the same dad I had before this,” she said. “He cannot stand up on his own.”
Mack said her father suffers from nightmares and one of the only phrases he uttered after the incident was “Lord help me.”
“I don’t have what I had before and I may not ever have that again,” she said.
Bamberg said prior to the Oct. 16 incident, “things were pretty much OK” for Chatfield.
Mack accompanied Chatfield to a local high school football game just a couple of days before he seemed to have a “mental lapse, a mental break,” Bamberg said.
On Oct. 15, Chatfield placed 76 calls to 911.
“It was very clear something was going on,” Bamberg said.
“He was afraid, he was confused and oftentimes he just had conversations with dispatch,” he said.
Bamberg praised the efforts of the dispatchers in Kingstree for “picking up on the signs that he was an elderly citizen who needed some help.”
By Oct. 16, Mack and her brother headed to Kingstree to tend to Chatfield.
Before they arrived, Chatfield drove from his home, Bamberg said.
“During the course of his driving, he did violate some traffic laws and he ran apparently two red lights with law enforcement behind his vehicle,” Bamberg said.
At a third traffic light, Chatfield stopped his vehicle and stepped out with his hands above his head.
Bamberg said that a dashboard camera video shows two officers approaching Chatfield.
One officer attempted to grab Chatfield, but he pulled away, Bamberg said. The attorney said Chatfield’s hands remained at chest level as he backed away from the officers.
One of the officers used a stun gun in the incident.
Chatfield “falls to the ground and you can actually hear his head hit the pavement, and that’s what caused the bleeding on the brain that he suffered,” Bamberg said.
An officer “politely dragged” Chatfield out of the road and rendered medical aid, Bamberg said.
Bamberg said, “We all understand that law enforcement is needed. They are loved by most of us. When something bad happens, who you call on is God and the police.”
“It’s sad that something like this had to happen, particularly to an 86-year-old grandfather, an 86-year-old father,” he said.
“It’s important that law enforcement understands that not everyone who doesn’t listen, who doesn’t follow directives, not every one of them wants to hurt anyone,” he said.
“They don’t want to harm you, they don’t want to harm the officer, but sometimes, like in Mr. Chatfield’s case, they just need help,” Bamberg said.
Bamberg pointed out that the Kingstree police incident report states that officers stunned Chatfield for his own safety. He called it a poor decision.
He explained that the U.S. Fourth Judicial Circuit ruled that law enforcement cannot deploy a stun gun on an individual who doesn’t pose harm to an officer or anyone else.
Neither of the Kingstree officers will face criminal charges, Bamberg said.
He said the solicitor’s office investigation concluded that the officers’ actions “do not rise to the level of criminal culpability.”
“We are OK with that,” he said.
Kingstree attorney, Rep. Cezar McKnight, D-Williamsburg, is also assisting with the case.