Judge sets bond for suspended Marlboro County sheriff, former deputy accused in stun gun incident
FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) – The Marlboro County sheriff and a former deputy were arraigned Tuesday on charges stemming from an alleged stun gun assault on an inmate.
Marlboro County Sheriff Charles Lemon and former deputy David Cook are both charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature and misconduct in office for the May 2020 incident at the Marlboro County Detention Center.
Lemon and Cook pleaded not guilty to the charges before Judge Michael Nettles. Lemon and Cook were each granted a $25,000 surety bond and ordered not to have any contact with anyone from the Marlboro County Sheriff’s Office.
Both Lemon and Cook also requested jury trials during the hearing.
Court documents state that Lemon ordered Cook to deploy his stun gun on Jarrel Lee Johnson and unlawfully continued to activate the stun gun at least two times after the initial stun gun deployment to subdue Johnson.
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The indictments allege the assault was likely to produce great bodily injury or death. One of the indictments against Cook states he deployed his stun gun into Johnson’s chest and leg.
Bakari Sellers, who is representing Johnson’s family, called the incident during Tuesday’s arraignment “one of the most disgusting acts” caught on video. Sellers noted that Johnson is mentally ill, adding that his family considered Lemon a friend prior to the incident.
“Under South Carolina law, you can’t be sheriff and jury and executioner at the same time. And Mr. Lemon thought he was,” Sellers said.
Citing an incident report, Morgan Martin, who is representing Lemon, said in court Johnson was arrested for the “brutal baseball beating” of his father. He added that Lemon responded to the Marlboro County Detention Center while on his way to church due to Johnson’s disruptive behavior.
Due to the charges, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster suspended Lemon and appointed Larry McNeil to be the interim sheriff for Marlboro County.
Cook is no longer employed in law enforcement.
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