SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright and Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller responded Monday morning to the statement made by Shaw University president following a bus stop in early October along I-85 in Spartanburg County.
The stop resulted in a search that was a part of the department’s Operation Rolling Thunder, a weeklong effort to remove drugs and other items off Spartanburg County highways. The bus had 18 students and staff members on board.
Bodycam footage of the search was released following the press conference Monday morning:
After the traffic stop, Shaw President Paulette Dillard released a statement that in part said, “In a word, I am ‘outraged.’ This behavior of targeting Black students is unacceptable and will not be ignored nor tolerated,” Dillard said. “Had the students been White, I doubt this detention and search would have occurred.”
Sheriff Wright claimed the unmarked bus with tinted windows was pulled over because it was weaving in traffic.
Once the bus pulled over Cherokee County deputies said they spoke with the bus driver, who consented to a search of the luggage compartments.
Sheriff Wright said one K-9, on a leash, sniffed and alerted them to a bag, which can be seen on video. The sheriff’s office searched the bag and did not find anything.
No drugs were found in any of the bags and no students were asked to get off the bus, according to the sheriff’s office.
The bus driver was issued a ticket for improper lane use.
Sheriff Wright said he called Dillard once to set up a meeting to try to have her come and review the footage of the search.
On Friday, President Dillard was supposed to meet with Sheriff Wright to watch the footage but she canceled, the sheriff’s office said.
Also on Friday, five North Carolina members of Congress sent a letter asking the Justice Department to conduct a thorough review of the search.
7NEWS reached out to a spokesperson for Shaw University. They said due to ongoing investigations, there is no additional information to share about the incident. Representatives said they would follow up when investigations are finished.
Sheriff Wright also said he reached out to Eddie Parks, the president of the West Spartanburg NAACP Branch, and showed Parks body camera footage of the traffic stop. On Monday, Parks told 7NEWS he did not think the incident was targeted and said he didn’t find anything unusual about the traffic stop.