Originally created 11/22/05

Aiken Solicitor reviews police inquiry

AIKEN - An investigation into allegations of misconduct by a former Williston police officer is now on the desk of 2nd Circuit Solicitor Barbara Morgan, more than a year after the state began its probe.

But Ms. Morgan said Monday that more interviews need to be conducted before she can close the investigation involving former Officer Scott Harper.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to resolve it after Thanksgiving," she said.

The State Law Enforcement Division launched an investigation into the police department late last year at the request of town officials.

Inspector Richard Hunton, a SLED spokesman, said he could not comment on the investigation because it is still open but confirmed that it has been passed on to Ms. Morgan.

The inquiry was launched at the request of town officials after the June 13, 2004, arrest of Williston resident LaKenya Cuthbertson. Protests erupted over the arrest because Mr. Harper allegedly left Ms. Cuthbertson's young children home alone when he took their mother to jail.

Leaders in the black community also complained that Mr. Harper, who resigned from the department several months ago, targeted minorities for harassment and overzealous traffic stops.

Ms. Morgan said she plans to go to Williston, which is in Barnwell County, within days to discuss findings from the investigation with town officials.

Williston Police Chief Roger Kaney said he could not comment on the investigation.

"I just found out today (Monday) that we're supposed to meet with the solicitor," he said.

Ms. Cuthbertson, who was arrested on an outstanding probation warrant, has said that Mr. Harper made no arrangements to have someone care for her children, nor did he allow her to make such arrangements.

In July 2004, the African American Concerned Citizens Group, which had 25 adults as members, marched on town hall. Its members also appeared at a town commission meeting to complain about the police department.

An open record request by The Augusta Chronicle found 11 written complaints against the police department between 2000 and 2004.

Nine of those complaints were lodged against Mr. Harper.

Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or sandi.martin@augustachronicle.com.


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