SLED charges CCSO deputy with assault after traffic stop

Screen shot of the dash cam video from November (WCIV)

By Stacy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A Charleston County Sheriff's deputy is on unpaid administrative leave after the State Law Enforcement Division charged him with assault on a teen during a traffic stop.

Deputy Christopher Davis, 27, is accused of beating Devante Pittman, 19,{}last November.{}SLED charged Davis with assault and battery in the third degree.

"We were surprised and disappointed when charges came out because we think when incident all taken in to context, demonstrates he used reasonable force for circumstances," Davis's attorney Don McCune said.

According to the initial incident report from the Sheriff's Office, deputies were investigating reports of shots fired near Elsey Street, just off Wappoo Road in West Ashley.

Officers were still searching the area two hours later at 11:10 p.m. when they pulled Pittman over in the area of Orleans Road and Hazelwood Drive for not using his turn signal.

The incident report states that Pittman "became belligerent and refused to comply with Deputies demands."

Charleston County Deputies James Howard and Christopher Davis were working the traffic stop.

According to the report, Pittman refused to get out of the car and tried to pull Deputy Davis into the car when Davis tried to unlock the driver's side door.

Deputies were able to get Pittman out of the car with a "brief struggle," according to the report.

You can see dash cam video of the traffic stop here.

"He suffered serious injuries to his jaw and lost teeth," said Pittman's attorney Lionel Lofton.

However, the video did not show what happened inside the car. Davis said Pittman used his left hand to reach over to the passenger seat, while his right hand hovered over the clutch. Davis said he thought Pittman was going to speed off.

"There were movements within the car that aren't visible from the video that would lead someone to believe something else going on. Officer Davis was held," McCune said.

But Pittman's attorney disagreed. He said the video showed what really happened.

"He didn't do anything to provoke anybody," Lofton said. "SLED has now done a complete investigation. They filed charges against Deputy Davis. So I think that pretty much says what Devante told them was the truth."

Lofton said Pittman suffered significant physical injuries and damages including severe bruising to areas of his face and head and significant damage to his teeth and jaw that will require extensive reconstructive surgery.

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 Lofton claims Davis reached into the car and hit Pittman repeatedly in the face with a metal flashlight.

According to the lawsuit, Deputy James Howard and Deputy Gilbert Baldwin joined Davis to get Pittman out of the car.{} The lawsuit states that Howard and Baldwin allegedly held down Pittman while Deputy 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.

An early bond hearing was held Friday morning and Davis was allowed to leave on his own recognizance. Davis is on administrative leave{}without pay from the sheriff's office.