Lancaster police officer accused of harassing Black residents placed on leave

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LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- It’s been almost a month since the Lancaster City Council listened to the complaints and concerns from several Black residents who claim they’ve been harassed by a local police officer. 

The city has acknowledged these complaints by opening an investigation and putting Detective Sgt. Pete Beck on administrative leave pending the investigation. 

For Arnesha Wade that’s not enough. 

“I feel like you just let him do whatever he wants to do,” Wade said.

Wade says she and Beck have interacted several times over the past few months. 

“One particular time, we had a little incident or whatever. We were at the stoplight beside each other, and he was following me and ended up pulling up beside me and was like, ‘so you’re basically following me now and I’m going to file harassment charges on you now since you did it on me.’” 

Wade says she filed complaints about Beck’s behavior several times but has not heard anything from the city or the police department. But she says she did hear from Beck. 

“How is it okay for him to be able to know who’s filing complaints on him?” 

Tonya Ross is the woman who gathered several black people to address their complaints during a city council meeting in February. 

“It was like 20, 21 people there, but there were 37 people on call,” Ross said.

FOX 46 requested to see the complaints that were submitted to the department and received one back. Latoya McIlwain submitted a written complaint on January 19, 2021. 

She claims Officer Beck followed behind her too closely, so she switched lanes, finally he flashed his lights, and pulled her over. As she was getting her license, she says he snatched the door open. Eventually, he cited her for improper lane change and told her he was looking for someone else. 

Lancaster Police Department representative Kayla Vaughn says according to Chief Grant, that is still the only written complaint they have on file. Ross says there are more than one. 

“I had someone reach out to me that did a complaint October 2020 and he kept his copy,” she said. “He sent me his copy, so why isn’t the chief speaking about his complaint? Why don’t y’all have his complaint? Even after the history that his officer has, he believes his officer instead of all these citizens.”

The Department now has online complaint forms. Once an individual submits it, they will receive a copy and the form heads to Chief Grant and the city administrator. But Ross says, it’s not working. 

“I know of one particular person that did try it and her complaint was not spoken on at that last meeting. She did it, so you’re still talking about that one complaint and you’re not even talking about hers,” she said.

FOX 46 reached out to the police department for comment and were told no one was available today or tomorrow. We also reached out to the Mayor twice and the city administrator and have not received comment. 

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