Prosecutor brought into review matter finds no reason to charge Ruben Santiago or the fired officer who brought claims against him.
Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The investigator looking into allegations against the interim Columbia police chief says there is no evidence to support criminal charges, meaning the lawman is cleared of any wrongdoing.
Walt Wilkins, the 13th Circuit Solicitor based in Greenville, gave his final conclusions to the public Tuesday afternoon.
He was brought in to review a State Law Enforcement Division probe Columbia Police because of possible conflicts of interest involving the Richland County Solicitor.
"I was not her to give any favors to any friends or punish any enemies," Wilkins said. "I'm here to call balls and strikes, because I have no investment in this investigation."
The probe began when former CPD Captain David Navarro claimed he was asked by Interim Chief Ruben Santiago to plant drugs on a public official and to fabricate allegations against another officer.
City Manager Teresa Wilson fired Navarro on last July 15th, after she says he was fired for recording a conversation with the police chief and shredding documents.
Santiago later asked for a SLED probe into the shredding. Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin also requested SLED's help to look into all allegations.
Additionally, Wilkins said he expanded the probe to look into omissions and misstatements that Santiago and another Columbia police employee made during the investigation.
However, after reviewing the facts, Wilkins said there was no evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Santiago did any of the actions that Navarro claimed. Wilkins also said there was no wrongdoing by Navarro, and neither man will face charges.
Wilkins also said there was insufficient evidence to show that Santiago or the other employee impeded the investigation.
The investigation into the matter is now closed.
Wilkins did reveal that during the course of his involvement, there were elected officials who contacted him, wanting status updates and information. Wilkins said he did not reveal any pertinent details to them.
Columbia City Manager Teresa Wilson spoke following the announcement, saying, "I am pleased that this investigation of the Columbia Police Department has come to a close. This has been a long process, but I understand that the length of time was necessary in order for the investigation to be thorough and comprehensive."
Santiago had applied to become the permanent police chief, but was left off a list of finalists for the job that was released earlier this month,.