COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina city has agreed to pay $750,000 to a man who sued over being jailed for more than four months on charges that he hit an officer, even though a police supervisor said the accusation wasn’t true.
The settlement for Demetrius Jamison was approved by the Orangeburg City Council on Tuesday, according to Justin Bamberg, Jamison’s attorney.
Jamison was arrested in April 2018 on charges of head-butting and assaulting officers. A short time later, a police lieutenant wrote a memo saying that the then-26-year-old Jamison didn’t actually strike an officer, and a review of camera footage from the day showed a police corporal encouraging officers to tell investigators that Jamison hit them, according to Bamberg.
Jamison’s assault case was still taken to municipal court, where a judge found him guilty. Between his arrest and sentence, Jamison spent 128 days behind bars.
Jamison sued Orangeburg in 2019, accusing the city and its police force of violating his civil rights by the wrongful arrest and imprisonment, also arguing the publicity from the arrest prevented him from making a living.
“This is a case of failed leadership,” Bamberg said, following the settlement approval. “Imagine law enforcement alleging that you were guilty of something that some of them already knew you didn’t do, and all the while, you sat in jail contemplating the 20 years in state prison you were facing. That’s unacceptable and un-American.”
State police investigated Jamison’s arrest, ultimately determining he did not hurt any officers, according to Bamberg. Prosecutors did not bring charges against officers, but Bamberg said police actions were being reviewed by another agency.
A Public Safety spokesman did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment on the settlement.