CHARLESTON CO., S.C. (WCBD) – A North Charleston Councilman claimed he was racially profiled after he was pulled over during a traffic stop last week.
According to a memorandum from the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, Councilman Jerome Heyward filed a citizen’s complaint against Deputy Leonard Vella on July 25th, claiming he was racially profiled the day before.
According to CCSO, Councilman Heyward was pulled over on July 24th after he failed to use his turn signal when switching lanes on Savannah Highway. In body-camera footage released by CCSO, Deputy Vella said the councilman refused to exit the vehicle when asked. He said the city official also did not have the proper documents for the rental car he was driving.
At one point in the video, Councilman Heyward asked to go in the shade claiming he was dehydrated. The deputy called EMS and offered Heyward a bottle of water, but he can be seen refusing the water on camera.
Heyward also claimed that emergency medical services failed to properly assist him. A short clip of the over 20-minute encounter can be seen below.
Since the incident, Councilman Heyward said he hired State Representative and Attorney Marvin Pendarvis to help clear his name. News 2 reached out to Pendarvis to hear his reaction to the video.
“I have had a conversation with Mr. Heyward and going forward I think what we will probably do is have a further conversation with the Sheriff’s Office, maybe have a sit-down conversation with the deputy, the Sheriff, maybe someone on the team. Just to hear Mr. Heyward out as to why he felt the way he felt,” said Pendarvis.
According to Pendarvis, they plan to reach out to the Sheriff’s Office this week to initiate that conversation.
According to the memorandum, the Office of Professional Standards determined Councilman Heyward’s “recollection of events are inconsistent and not factual.” The memorandum said Deputy Vella’s actions were justified and therefore he was exonerated.