Warrants charge Aiken man, 19, in policeman's death

AIKEN — South Carolina authorities obtained arrest warrants Thursday against a 19-year-old Aiken man in the slaying of Aiken Master Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson.

Stephon Morrell Carter was out on bond from other charges when he was stopped Tuesday night by Aiken Public Safety officers at the entrance of Pace’s Run apartments on Brandt Court, police said. In the shoot-out that ensued, Richardson was wounded and died later at Medical College of Georgia Hospital. Officer Travis Griffin was hit in the chest by gunfire but was saved by his bullet-proof vest.

Carter was wounded and taken to MCG, where he remained Thursday night.

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division obtained warrants Thursday for murder and attempted murder against Carter, which will be waiting on him when he is released from medical care. According to a SLED news release, Carter will be arrested and held by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office pending his extradition to South Carolina.

As part of its investigation, SLED on Thursday interviewed Aiken officers involved in the shoot-out, Aiken Public Safety Sgt. Aaron Dowdy said. At least three officers returned fire Tuesday night, Dowdy said. After SLED clears the officers of any wrongdoing – part of standard procedure in these events – they will be able to return to duty after a mental health evaluation, he said. Dowdy said he could not name the officers involved.

Carter has been a familiar face to Aiken authorities, having been arrested at least three times since he was 16, according to South Carolina 2nd Circuit Court Records.

In March 2009, he was arrested and charged with armed robbery with a deadly weapon. The resolution of those charges was unclear from court records Thursday. In July 2010, Carter was arrested for filing a false police report in connection with an incident in which he claimed he was wounded in the leg by another person. Police said Carter actually shot himself.

His most recent arrest occurred in July. Carter was charged with possession of a weapon with an obliterated serial number and released on $10,000 bond. According to court records, a grand jury returned an indictment against Carter on Dec. 1.

Blackville (S.C.) Police Chief John Holston, a distant cousin of Carter, said the young man was born into tragic circumstances, which might help explain – but not excuse – his situation. According to news reports, Carter’s parents, Willie and Sonya Carter, had already separated when he was born at Aiken Regional Medical Centers on Dec. 3, 1992.

It was three months later that Carter’s father kidnapped his estranged wife from a parking lot at Aiken Technical College. Her body was found the next day in the passenger seat of her car on a dirt road in Barnwell County. She had been shot four times with a .22-caliber pistol. Carter’s father was arrested and convicted of murder for the killing. He has been serving a life sentence at Allendale Correctional Institution since November 1993.

After his mother’s death, Carter was brought up in the Sundy Avenue home of his maternal grandparents, Sarah Jane Hickman and Samuel Hickman Sr., according to Carter’s paternal grandmother, Alberta Carter, of Blackville, S.C. He was 9 when Samuel Hickman died, leaving his grandmother as his sole guardian.

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FAMILY STATEMENT

We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude for the support we have received from Aiken and the surrounding communities. One can never be prepared for a tragedy like this, but it is comforting to know that Scotty was loved and respected by so many people.

Members of the law enforcement community, especially the Aiken Department of Public Safety (ADPS), have been awesome. Scotty’s brothers and sisters at ADPS have been with us since this nightmare began and they have never left our side. You will never know how much each one of you have meant to us.

We would also like to thank the trauma team at Georgia Health Sciences University. Each one of you showed tremendous care and compassion while working with Scotty.

It is hard to understand why Scotty was taken from us by this cowardly act, but we know that he died doing what he loved and that was being a police officer serving the public.

In the coming days we will lay our Scotty to rest. We ask that you keep us in your prayers and especially his wife, Amelyn, and three precious boys, Zander, Chase, and Maddox. We would also ask for privacy as we mourn the loss of Scotty, a public servant and hero.

Sincerely,

The Richardson Family

RICHARDSON FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS

Funeral arrangements for Aiken Master Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson have been announced.

The funeral will be at noon Tuesday at the University of South Carolina Aiken Convocation Center. Burial will follow in Historic Bethany Cemetery.

The family will receive friends from 5-8 p.m. Monday at Shellhouse-Rivers Funeral Home, 715 E. Pine Log Road.

A prayer vigil has been planned for Monday outside the Aiken Public Safety Department, but a time has not been set.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Edward Scott Richardson Children’s Fund, Savannah River Banking Co., 407 Silver Bluff Road SW, Aiken, SC 29803

Sign the online guest registry is available at shellhouseriversfuneralhome.com.

– From staff reports

SLED Press Release

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