Originally created 05/17/03

Solicitor's inquiry is personal, chief says



AIKEN - Embattled New Ellenton Police Chief Van McMillan blames a personality conflict with 2nd Circuit Solicitor Barbara Morgan as the reason her office still has an open investigation on complaints about his police work.

Shortly before shaking hands Friday morning with veteran civil rights activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who said New Ellenton's first black police chief was the object of "racial targeting and profiling," Chief McMillan said friction between him and Ms. Morgan seemed to stem from his officers' failure to appear at several grand jury hearings.

"She has never liked me," the chief said. "I don't know why. There are inconsistencies with what Barbara Morgan is looking at. ... It's just more of the same. Miss Morgan - I say Miss Morgan out of respect for her position - she's been very cruel to me. She's treated me with no respect."

Though Chief McMillan was cleared Wednesday night by the New Ellenton town council for allegations of misconduct, Ms. Morgan has said she will meet with South Carolina Law Enforcement Division agents to discuss complaints against him that go beyond the scope of the council's review. Ms. Morgan was in Columbia on Friday and did not return phone calls to her office or cell phone.

Chief McMillan said investigators from SLED and Ms. Morgan's office have talked only to disgruntled residents making complaints against him and have failed to interview people such as David Ingram Jr. or his grandfather, Fred Davis.

Mr. Ingram is the 17-year-old New Ellenton resident who is at the center of an Aiken County Sheriff's Office investigation into whether Chief McMillan interfered in his arrest Sept. 3 on sexual assault charges.

At issue is whether Chief McMillan was responsible for waiting to turn Mr. Ingram over to deputies after riding in an ambulance with him to Aiken Regional Medical Centers or whether it was proper for him to leave after turning the suspect over to hospital security officers, as he did, before the deputies' arrival.

"How can they say something about an open investigation when they've only got one side?" said Chief McMillan, 36, a 10-year law enforcement veteran who was hired as New Ellenton's police chief in July 2001.

After a breakfast meeting at the Mount Anna Baptist Church near Aiken, where the Rev. Jackson sought to drum up support for a march today in Greenville, S.C., to protest the city's refusal to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Chief McMillan shook hands with the civil rights leader, who he said told him to "hang in there."

Reach Jim Nesbitt at (803) 648-1394 or jim.nesbitt@augustachronicle.com.