Alex Underwood, the first black sheriff elected in Chester County S.C., was indicted on charges ranging from conspiracy to falsifying evidence, Chief Deputy Robert Sprouse and Lt. Johnny Neal Jr. Underwood, were also indicted. Underwood was suspended from office immediately after the indictments were announced.
WHY THE INDICTMENT?
On Nov. 20, 2018, Underwood, Neal and Sprouse responded to a report of a man fleeing the scene of a car accident. When they arrived, a man who lived near the scene came out of his home and began recording the commotion on his cell phone and broadcasting it on Facebook Live. The indictment states that the man “did not enter the roadway or interfere with law enforcement activities.”
According to reports, Underwood repeatedly told the man, whom we will refer to from now on as “T,” to go back to his porch. When T. retreated to his porch, Underwood reportedly lunged at T. and demanded his cell phone. Deputy Neal eventually helped Underwood restrain K.S. and, after handcuffing him, knocked T to the ground, injuring him.
See it all in this video:
As they were arresting the innocent man, the officers realized that the video had been published on Facebook Live. But T, didn’t have his phone. So, Underwood told deputies to draw up a faulty search warrant saying that one of the cops had lost a radio during the incident and that it might be inside the home of T, a blatant lie.
Charges on the victim were eventually dropped…
The three officers entered the home, before the warrant was even signed, to search for the phone.
They found the phone and called the detention center to place a three day “hold” on T. After finding the phone, Sprouse delivered it to evidence.
In January, the officers created a police report with fake details about T.’s arrest. The report said that T left his yard, impeded officers and used profane language toward them, another lie…
T identified the lies in the report, and was backed up by the video. His home was searched and his phone was seized without a signed warrant, adding to the list of things the officers did wrong.
But the trio reportedly attempted to shift the blame to the evidence officer, saying that he had taken the phone. The officers even signed a disciplinary report against the officer for destroying/concealing evidence, causing the report to be sent to the FBI.
When the FBI got involved, the officers tried to lie even more.
Underwood has reportedly been charged with deprivation of rights, tampering, falsifying records in a federal investigation and making false statements. Neal has been charged with deprivation of rights and falsifying records. Sprouse has been charged with tampering, falsifying records and making false statements. All three have also been charged with criminal conspiracy with Underwood facing more than 50 years in prison in convicted.
In the last 10 years, 13 of South Carolina’s sheriffs were indicted on criminal charges.