At a news conference at police headquarters, Scott said he was still reeling from the 2005 death of Keith Cannon. The Richland County sheriff’s deputy was following a dump truck when he lost control of his cruiser on Interstate 20 in Lexington County; state troopers found that Cannon had not been forced off the road.
Scott, who previously served as a Richland County deputy, said he had hired Cannon and was with him just before the crash at a police officers’ memorial. But it was only during recent counseling that he realized was still affected by Cannon’s death, he said.
“Only after going through counseling, that’s when I realized that’s what it was,” Scott said. “That was something that I just couldn’t let go.”
Scott, whose resignation is effective May 1, has been on a leave of absence for several weeks. He took no questions at Monday’s news conference.
He was Columbia’s sixth chief in seven years. City officials said Acting Chief Ruben Santiago would continue to lead the department until a permanent replacement was found.
In announcing Scott’s leave earlier this month, City Manager Teresa Wilson said the chief would continue to be paid his $112,000 salary. On Monday, Wilson said Scott would continue to be paid and would burn accumulated leave time until May 1.
Scott’s departure comes amid a lawsuit brought against him by a former officer. A year ago, the department came under scrutiny after a botched search for a missing lobbyist. Scott’s officers searched a Columbia office building three times in 10 days before finding the body of Hospitality Association executive Tom Sponseller, who had committed suicide.
After that bungled search, one of Scott’s top officers was fired. Isa Greene is now suing Scott and the city, saying she was made a scapegoat for the department’s failings and also was paid less than men holding equal rank. Greene had been with the department for 33 years when she was fired in March 2012.
Scott, the city and the police department have denied Greene’s allegations. On Monday, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin praised Scott’s leadership of the department.