Originally created 01/27/99

Former lieutenant waits for his trial



AIKEN -- A casually dressed Frank Conoly checked into the Aiken County Detention Center on Tuesday, a day after he was charged in what authorities believe was a roadside assault against two motorists.

The former Aiken Department of Public Safety lieutenant was fingerprinted, booked and photographed, then sent on his way to wait for his case to come up in court. Mr. Conoly was charged late Monday with aggravated assault and battery, simple assault and malicious damage to personal property valued under $1,000 -- all misdemeanors in South Carolina. He is free on a personal recognizance bond.

If he is convicted, the crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years, two months in prison.

Shawn Hammond, an Augusta attorney representing La-Prell and Tammie Drumming, said Tuesday the charges leveled against Mr. Conoly are "reasonable, just and fair."

It's too soon to say whether the family will sue Mr. Conoly or the public safety department, Mr. Hammond said.

"The family is evaluating all their options," Mr. Hammond said. "They're still recovering from what has happened to them. The worst thing about all this is that these people are the salt of the earth, yet something like this happens to Grievance them."

Mr. Conoly, 47, was fired shortly after the Jan. 3 incident amid accusations that he stopped a vehicle that was tailgating him, broke the car window with his baton and sprayed the motorists with pepper spray. He was off duty and driving his own vehicle at the time.

Mr. Conoly, who has kept silent since the event, will get an official chance to tell his side of the story Feb. 25 during his appearance before the city's grievance committee. The former police officer has requested that the hearing be public.

Meanwhile, The Augusta Chronicle has filed a Freedom of Information request for an accounting of grievances filed by and against the former officer, including the dates, causes of action and disposition. The Chronicle also has requested access to grievance files in these cases.

Chasiti Kirkland can be reached at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.



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