SLED closes investigation into North Augusta police allegation

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NORTH AUGUSTA -- The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has closed an investigation into allegations the North Augusta Department of Public Safety violated civil rights, according to an investigative report obtained by The Augusta Chronicle through a Freedom of Information request.

Public Safety Chief Lee Wetherington notified SLED in September of a complaint filed by Joseph Williams, of Augusta, against Lt. Robbie Bell.

Documents say Mr. Williams was arrested on June 17, 2007, but was given a courtesy summons for shoplifting and receiving stolen goods.

Mr. Williams said Lt. Bell hit him in the mouth with a gun, which required medical and dental work.

He was later taken to the Medical College of Georgia Hospital for treatment as a private citizen.

Officers questioned during the investigation say Mr. Williams said he was hit by Lt. Bell, and they saw Mr. Williams bandaged that night and bleeding, but they did not see the incident occur.

Paperwork for using excessive force was also not filed

by officers with the original incident report.

SLED records show they closed the investigation due to lack of cooperation by Mr. Willams and his lawyer.

North Augusta City Administrator Sam Bennett said information regarding public safety's involvement and any disciplinary action for officers would be released next week.

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