FLORENCE COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — An internal affairs investigation into a Florence County inmate being hospitalized after a Taser was used on him multiple times has concluded, according to documents obtained by News13.
The investigation found that five officers — Paul Hopkins, Linsley Mondelus, Tatanya Hicks, Yolanda Nettles, and Keith Graham — were cited for failing to act during an incident that required assistance, documents show. Six officers — Hopkins, Ja’wan Neal, Timothy Jackson, Hicks, Nettles and Linsley Mondelus — were cited for not wearing or activating a body camera.
The alleged incident happened on April 4 and the Florence County Sheriff’s Office received the complaint more than a week later on April 12.
The formal internal affairs interview of Darrin Davis was conducted on May 4 in the Florence County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations conference room. Davis, accompanied by his attorney, Matthew Swilley, gave a statement to several officers about his background and the details of the alleged incident.
Davis, in his statement, admitted to an extensive criminal history which included multiple convictions in both state and federal courts. His most recent bout with the law was when he was sentenced to 86 months in federal prison for a burglary that occurred in Petersburg, Virginia.
Davis also said that he suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome, schizophrenia, and generalized anxiety disorder. Documents show that Davis never served in the military or law enforcement and does not take any medications for those conditions. He also admitted to being addicted to illegal narcotics.
Davis said on the evening of the incident, he called law enforcement believing that a suspicious person was walking outside of his home. He said the responding deputy walked with him around the home and was unable to find anything, documents said.
Davis, in his interview, said he has no recollection of being combative with detention officers or EMS and denies consuming methamphetamine or any other illegal narcotic while in the detention center.
He admitted, however, that he had earlier consumed some substance from a clear bag which was most likely methamphetamine, documents show. Davis said that any such substances would have been discovered while he was being searched.
The findings of the internal affairs investigation revealed that Davis’s arrest inside of his home for breach of peace was unlawful and that he was unreasonably tased by an officer who was not taught to use the taser.
When Davis arrived at the detention center, he was brought into the booking area and was processed. It was determined, through the investigation, that Davis was not sent through a body scanner which would have prevented the contraband, methamphetamine, from getting into the facility, according to the documents.
After Davis was booked, he was placed in the detox room and while in the room, he acted as if he was paranoid. Deputies removed him from the detox room in an attempt to calm him down for an extended period of time, documents said.
Davis made a medical complaint to the detention center staff, and they followed protocol and contacted the medical staff on call, documents show. Davis was offered medication to help with his anxiety and paranoia, but he refused the medicine. He was also given food and water, but he did not eat the food.
Another incident happened in the detention center that night and Davis was placed back inside the detox room while officers attended to the incident, according to the documents. He continued to show signs of anxiety and paranoia while in the room, when an officer — Manaisha Gilmore, used her Taser.
Gilmore heard another officer’s body camera, Sgt. Vasquez, and told her to “turn that off,” documents show. Vasquez turned the body camera off and no audio footage was captured after that point.
While in the detox room, officers witnessed Davis taking his shirt off, hitting the walls and windows of the detox room, according to the documents. Davis was later seen eating something later identified as methamphetamine.
Officers then went into the room to control Davis, and when he came toward officers they used a Taser on him. Davis fell to the floor and “probably struck his head on the door frame when he fell,” the documents said. Officers tried to handcuff Davis but were unable due to a malfunctioning or damaged handcuff.
The officers did not attempt to restrain Davis and he became violent, got up, and swung the handcuff that was not secured. He then started running around the booking center and a Taser was used on him again, according to the findings.
Davis, after the Taser was used on him again, remained on the floor for 28 to 30 seconds and was not moving. The documents show that officers stood around and gave commands but did not make any attempt to secure him.
Vasquez then ordered for EMS to be called and Davis tried to get up off the floor but a Taser was used on him twice within a second by officer Ja’Wan Neal, documents show. He then fell to the floor near the booking door and large glass wall.
Other officers began showing up in the booking area, but none of them attempted to assist with restraining or getting Davis securely handcuffed.
After officers were able to handcuff Davis in the front and as they were putting leg shackles on him, he tried to get up off the floor and a Taser was used twice in one second again by Neal, documents state.
While attempting to put on leg shackles, Davis attempted to get up again and the Taser was used on him again. Leg shackles were put him on shortly afterward and a Taser was used again by Neal because he was moving his leg while lying on the floor, according to the documents. Davis raised his hands and the Taser was used again by the same officer.
This is when Vasquez ordered the officers to not use a Taser on Davis anymore, documents state.
Several officers stood around and watched two officers attempt to handcuff and shackle Davis. Davis began to get up off the floor when Neal used a Taser on him again even after being ordered not to. Davis was able to get up and went behind the booking desk where officers attempted to take him to the ground, documents show.
Davis got a hold of an officer’s Taser and had control of it for a period of time, according to the documents. Officers finally held him down until EMS arrived and he was taken to the hospital to be treated for his injuries.
The investigation found that Davis was subjected to unreasonable/unnecessary force by Neal and that Neal didn’t follow direct orders to no longer use a Taser on Davis, documents show.
Neal used a taser that he had not been trained to use and that was the explanation for why he fired two cartridges in less than one minute, documents state.
The findings also show that Neal made statements that were not professional after the use of a taser, like standing over Davis and saying, “my first body” and then saying “i’mma keep poppin.”
Another officer, Cpl. Keith Graham, was also cited with making an unprofessional comment in response to Neal’s statement encouraging Neal to “keep poppin his a**”
Taylor Ford is a digital journalist for News13. She joined the News13 team in January 2023. Taylor is a Florence native and covers the Pee Dee out of News13’s Florence Bureau. Read more of Taylor’s work here.