Sheriff on leave after weekend arrest
by The Press and Standard | November 14, 2019 5:00 am
Last Updated: November 13, 2019 at 11:08 am
Colleton County Sheriff R.A. Strickland is taking some time off for quiet reflection.
In a prepared statement issued shortly after 6 p.m. on Tuesday Nov. 12, Strickland said he was placing himself on a leave of absence.
In his prepared statement, Strickland said, “For the last seven years the great citizens of Colleton County have placed their trust in me. As sheriff, out of love and respect for my employees, and the citizens of Colleton County, I have placed myself on a leave of absence. Effective immediately. This is standard policy within our office.
“Chief Deputy, Buddy Hill, is someone I’ve always placed great trust in. He will continue to provide due diligence to the citizens of our community during my absence. This time will allow me to heal and self-reflect on myself. I will strive to be stronger and better at serving the citizens of Colleton, and my employees, upon returning.”
Strickland’s prepared statement did not refer to the incident that lead to his decision — a Nov. 10 arrest on a charge of second-degree domestic violence.
Shortly before Strickland issued his statement, the local NAN chapter showed up at the front door of the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office, calling on South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster to remove Strickland from office.
However, that is a move McMaster can’t make — yet.
Even though the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division arrested Strickland on the domestic violence charge, McMaster is not allowed to take any action against Strickland until a grand jury indicts him on the charge. The governor is the only person who can remove a S.C. sheriff from office, but only after indictment by a grand jury. The 14th District solicitor is continuing to evaluate the evidence before determining whether to send the case to the grand jury at press time.
Jeff Kidd, communications director for the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, said the typical procedure for such a charge would be to seek an indictment.
If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, Strickland could face a maximum sentence of three years and a maximum fine of $5,000.
More importantly, a conviction on the charge would result in a court order banning Strickland from possessing a firearm, which could end Strickland’s law enforcement career.
Strickland’s next court appearance is tentatively set for Feb. 14, 2020 — St. Valentine’s Day.
The statement of candidacy period to file to seek re-election for a third term as sheriff will be in March.
Strickland was arrested on Nov. 9 in connection with an incident that occurred two days earlier.
The arrest affidavit alleges that on Nov. 7 at approximately 10 p.m., Strickland punched an unidentified female household member in the face “more than once.”
According to the affidavit, the victim of the attack received “moderate bodily injury,” including an arm injury sustained while trying to protect her face from the attack.
The affidavit further states that “The injuries were also photographed by SLED agents and they are consistent with her recollection of event.”
After the physical attack, Strickland reportedly took possession of the victim’s cell phones to prevent her from seeking medical assistance or reporting the incident to authorities.
He also reportedly damaged the vehicle in which she tried to flee.
Based on the investigation, SLED obtained an arrest warrant on Friday Nov. 8 and served the warrant on Saturday Nov. 9.
Strickland was booked into the Colleton County Detention Center and appeared before a Visiting Circuit Court Judge Maite Murphy of Dorchester County for a bond hearing.
He left the detention center after bond was set at $5,000.