Deputy accused of beating suspect resigns, civil suit settled

Christopher Davis (provided)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A Charleston County deputy accused of beating a suspect during a traffic stop has resigned from his position with the sheriff's office.

His attorney Andy Savage said a{}sidebar deal led to 27-year-old Deputy Christopher Davis' resignation Thursday. He said sheriff's office attorney Sandy Senn made a deal in the civil case involving the sheriff's office,{}without consulting either Davis or Savage. He said Davis got a call about the deal on Wednesday.

"It said one, that Davis would be terminated; and two, he wouldn't be in law enforcement anymore. Well of course we wouldn't agree to that," Savage said. "Two days before the criminal case comes to court today, after Sandy Senn is trying to tell me the case is still being negotiated, they call and say, 'Get down here. You have{}three hours to either get terminated or resign.'"

Savage said his client had no choice but to resign, but it was not fair Davis faced the same charge that Sheriff Al Cannon once did.{}He said{}the sheriff's department is trying to save its image.

"You've got a guy who's out here at night, fighting thugs. You've seen the video. It wasn't pretty. He was in the{}middle of resisting arrest, charged with the same offense, and{}he's treated like a junkyard dog," Savage said.

Davis is accused of beating Devante Pittman, 19,{}last November. The State Law Enforcement Division charged Davis with assault and battery in the third degree last month.

After the November incident, Pittman was treated at the hospital and transported to the Charleston County Detention Center where he was charged with third degree assault and battery.

A lawsuit filed in December by Attorney Lionel Lofton claims Davis reached into the car and hit Pittman repeatedly in the face with a metal flashlight.

According to the lawsuit, deputies James Howard and Gilbert Baldwin joined Davis to get Pittman out of the car.{} The lawsuit states that Howard and Baldwin allegedly held down Pittman while Davis repeatedly hit him in the face.{}

The affidavit from SLED accuses Davis of hitting Pittman "with a closed fist several times, striking him about the mouth, face and head."

Lofton claims in the lawsuit that Pittman did nothing wrong and was wrongfully charged for assault and battery.

Savage says the deputy resigned Thursday.

Davis was supposed to have a hearing on Friday for his criminal charge,{}but it was been postponed. Pittman's lawyer wrote in a letter to the court that he was told Davis had been placed on pre-trial intervention.

Savage also said the Sheriff's Office settled Pittman's civil case without including Davis. The conditions of that deal included Davis' resignation.

Senn responded with the following statement:

"Let's be clear, I represent the sheriff's office, not Deputy Davis. Davis has both a civil and a criminal lawyer of his own. Mr. Savage was told last week about a pending civil settlement which still has not been consummated and about an offer by Pittman to agree to Davis entering PTI. Savage advised Tuesday that Davis did not consent to pretrial intervention and I respect it is his decision to make. But, the civil settlement does not require Deputy Davis or Andy Savage to consent. Regardless of whether Deputy Davis wants it, the department is settling the suit and that's a direct result of what is seen on the videotape."

Senn also released this statement from Caroline Cleveland, an employment lawyer for CCSO:

"The internal investigation into Davis' alleged misconduct began before the civil case was filed, and was conducted according to CCSO routine practices regarding such matters. In any case of alleged deputy misconduct, the Internal Affairs Division is charged with investigating the circumstances and it then becomes the Sheriff's job to make employment decisions following those investigations. The decision to end Davis' employment was made independent of and without regard to the civil case or its settlement."