Kershaw County sheriff, former deputy named in lawsuit over alleged assault

Kershaw County sheriff, former deputy named in lawsuit over alleged assault
WIS has obtained footage of an incident involving Tony Sims and former Kershaw County deputy Johnathan Goldsmith. (Source: Kershaw County Sheriff's Office)

LUGOFF, S.C. (WIS) - Kershaw County’s top law enforcement officer and one of his former deputies are facing a lawsuit over a use of force incident in October.

The lawsuit names Sheriff Lee Boan and Johnathan Goldsmith over an incident where Goldsmith knocked out a Kershaw man, Tony Sims, in mid-October following a suspicious vehicle call.

Boan fired Goldsmith in November over the incident, and SLED agents arrested him on Jan. 13 on charges of misconduct and second-degree assault.

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The lawsuit, filed by attorney Brett Perry, said Goldsmith did not have probable cause to arrest Sims and was “sadistic” in his “torture” of Sims.

WIS obtained Goldsmith’s body camera footage, showing him repeatedly hitting Sims while he was on the ground, later tasing him, using pepper spray, and closing the patrol car door on his leg.

The incident began with Goldsmith exiting his patrol car and approaching Sims vehicle at Abney Baptist Church off Roberts Road in Kershaw County. Sims exited his vehicle, slurring his words and later admitting he had been drinking beer. At no point in the video was he clearly operating the car.

Goldsmith proceeds to pat Sims down, later writing in his incident report he saw an empty gun holster in the car. He began to handcuff Sims, telling him he was detained, not arrested. Sims questioned why he was being handcuffed, saying he had done nothing wrong. He does not let Goldsmith cuff his right arm. Goldsmith repeatedly tells him to comply, before striking him while standing and on the ground, resulting in Sims loss of consciousness.

When Sims wakes, he continues to question why Goldsmith had used that level of force on him, saying he had done nothing wrong. Sims does not comply with Goldsmith’s orders to enter the patrol car, and Goldsmith tases and pepper sprays him. At one point he closes the door on Sims’ leg.

Goldsmith later walks Sims over to a responding ambulance, and the video ends during the ambulance ride.

Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office documents show Goldsmith arrested Sims for resisting arrest, public disorderly conduct, open container in a moving vehicle, and possession of ecstasy.

The lawsuit claims as a result of the incident, Sims’ constitutional rights were violated.

It states:

“Plaintiff suffered physical harm, emotional harm, alteration of his lifestyle, humiliation, apprehension, anxiety, stress, depression, embarrassment, shame, fear, and a loss of enjoyment of life/”

In Goldsmith’s department narrative, he writes that he believed Sims was armed and that he had raised him elbow as if to strike him. He wrote that Sims was aggressive, fighting, resisting, and ignoring verbal commands.

Goldsmith does not have a defense attorney yet named for the case.

The lawsuit also holds Boan responsible, because Boan worked with Goldsmith at the Camden Police Department. It argues that Boan knew that Goldsmith had previous issues with use of force, but hired him to the sheriff’s office anyway.

Boan declined an interview, but stated in November relating to the incident:

“This is my failure to our citizens and something that shouldn’t have happened and at this point, I can’t go back in time and change it, but I can make things better going into the future.”

Perry sent WIS a statement reading:

“The people of Kershaw County deserve better than this. Law enforcement is supposed to serve and protect citizens, not abuse and victimize them. We are in the process of seeking additional witnesses, and would like for anyone else who has been mistreated by former Deputy Johnathan Goldsmith or any other law enforcement officer in Kershaw County, to step forward and get in touch with us. Please contact me via email at Brett@PerryLawFirm.us or by telephone (803) 572-5885.”

The Camden Police Department Chief Joe Floyd did not return a request for comment.

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