Officer Accused of Destroying Evidence Almost Fired Years Earlie - WSPA.com

Officer Accused of Destroying Evidence Almost Fired Years Earlier

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Lyman's police chief asked to fire an officer more than a year before state investigators accused the cop of destroying evidence. Lyman's police chief asked to fire an officer more than a year before state investigators accused the cop of destroying evidence.
Lyman, S.C. -

New documents made available to 7 On Your Side through the Freedom of Information Act show a police officer now charged with intentionally destroying evidence in a criminal case had been recommended for firing more than a year earlier.

State investigators accused First Sergeant Michael Hames of misconduct in office and obstruction of justice. The warrants accuse Hames of intentionally destroying evidence in a criminal case.

Letters from Lyman Police Chief Terry Richards wrote letters to Mayor Rodney Turner asking to fire Hames more than a year before state investigators said Hames crimes occurred.

Before working as a Lyman officer, Hames was a volunteer firefighter in Chesnee. In 1986, state records show Hames was convicted of Larceny, Burglary, and Arson.

Five years later, in 1991, Hames was promoted to Chesnee Fire Chief. He held that job for a short time before resigning under public pressure.

Hames was later pardoned.

In 2009, while working as a Lyman officer, Hames and the rest of the department received wireless air cards for their laptop computers.

7 On Your Side reviewed records for each of those cards, and Hames is the only employee to run up a bill.

Town records show Hames used that taxpayer property for $500 of personal use. In a letter to the mayor, Hames admits using the card improperly. He said he misunderstood the conditions of its use.

Hames later repaid the town by check.

In August of 2010, a letter from the chief to the mayor says Hames behavior “warrants a reprimand up to the level of dismissal.”

The letter says Hames falsified his time sheet, claiming to have been in K9 training in Woodruff. The letter claims Hames later admitted he never went to training.

The letter also claims Hames kept changing his story, later claiming he “got busy and forgot” while attending other police calls. Then the letter says Hames claimed he “could not remember what happened.”

Hames was not fired.

The mayor now says Hames called him that day to say he was sick.

“He called me and said he was sick and unable to attend that. Before I could get in here to notify the secretary they made a big deal of that," Turner said.

In June 2012, another letter from the chief to the mayor says Hames is “a liability to the department and the town of Lyman.”

The latter refers to a DUI stop involving Hames that was recorded on his dashboard camera.

The chief writes “any observer could see the suspect was indeed impaired because of the miserable performance” on field sobriety tests.

Hames and another officer allowed that driver to call for a ride and leave the scene.

The chief writes, “it is my only recourse to recommend the immediate termination of first sergeant Michael Hames.”

The mayor told 7 On Your Side, “it wasn’t justified”.

Hames remained on the job.

Four days after that letter, an email from the mayor shows Hames getting a promotion, placing Hames “in charge of the department.”

Asked about the new job responsibilities the mayor said,“I think it was because I couldn't get in touch with the chief or lieutenant.”

The mayor blames a former officer, Cole Smith, for problems with that DUI case.

Hames remains on the Lyman Police force but is on administrative leave pending the current state investigation.

He is out of jail after posting bond.

Arrest warrants state “that between August 12, 2013 and August 16, 2013” Hames “did knowingly and willfully alter and destroy evidence related to an active criminal investigation with the intent to impede, obstruct interfere with or influence” criminal justice.

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