Suspended SC police officers file grievances with city; lawyer cites ‘feud’ with mayor

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CHESTER, S.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- Three high-ranking Chester Police officers are fighting back after they were suspended without pay.

Chief Eric Williams, Capt. Travis Moore and Lt. Rickey Sanders have all filed grievances with the city of Chester.

“Specifically, these grievable adverse actions were made under circumstances that indicate political motivations, rather than legitimate professional concerns,” their lawyer Paul Porter wrote to the city.

Last week, city officials called in investigators with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to look into the police department’s finances.

A spokesperson with SLED says they are conducting a preliminary inquiry at this time. No official investigation has been opened.

“It’s a circular excuse, they ask for an inquiry then they use the inquiry as a reason to take away your job and your pay,” Porter said.

Neither Mayor Wanda Stringfellow nor City Administrator Stephanie Jackson returned requests for comment.

The City Council met in executive session to discuss personnel matters within the police department. However, no comments about the officers were made outside of executive session.

City officials have not said why they called for SLED to look into the finances.

“It’s no surprise to anybody that the mayor was previously targeting the police department,” said Porter.

The battle between the Mayor and the Police Department began in November of 2019, according to Porter.

That’s when two Chester officers shot and killed a shoplifting suspect Ariane McCree, and the Mayor called for the officers to be fired after learning they didn’t turn on the audio feature on their body cams, which is a department violation.

Porter argues this latest suspension is “round two” in the fight against the police department.

“These are all long-tenured guys. They don’t have substantive records of disciplinary problems or performance issues,” said Porter, “yet, the first step they went zero to 100 and suspended them.”

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