Wednesday, June 11, 2008
TROOPER INDICTED ON FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION.
Columbia, South Carolina—United States Attorney W. Walter Wilkins and Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., stated today that a federal grand jury in Greenville, South Carolina, issued an indictment today charging South Carolina Highway Patrolman Steve C. Garren, age 39, of Greenwood, with a federal civil rights violation.
The indictment alleges that on June 24, 2007, Garren struck a man with his patrol vehicle resulting in bodily injury to the man. The indictment further alleges that Garren’s actions willfully deprived the man of his constitutional right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer.
Mr. Wilkins stated, “Allegations of law enforcement abuse are serious, and must be considered carefully. I am confident the grand jury has done just that in issuing this indictment.”
The charge follows an investigation by federal and state authorities after a video of the alleged incident was shown by television and internet media outlets earlier this year.
Mr. Wilkins stated, “The joint investigation into the conduct of certain members of the South Carolina Highway Patrol is ongoing, and I anticipate additional presentations to the federal grand jury. Our office will continue to work with the FBI, SLED, and the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice to identify those cases that are appropriate for federal prosecution.”
Mr. Wilkins further stated, “I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the cooperation of the South Carolina Highway Patrol in this joint investigation. I also want to make clear that the overwhelming majority of troopers serve the citizens of this state with honor and distinction everyday. It’s important that this investigation continue, not only for the public’s confidence, but for their benefit as well.”
Mr. Wilkins stated the maximum penalty Garren could receive is a fine of $250,000.00 and imprisonment for ten years.
The case was investigated by special agents of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Alston C. Badger and Civil Rights Division Deputy Chief Brent Alan Gray.
The United States Attorney stated that all charges in this Indictment are merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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