RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. — A federal jury has found that a South Carolina woman is owed several thousands of dollars over what she endured at the hands of a now ex-deputy in 2019.
A jury, on Thursday, ordered that the Richland County Sheriff's Department pay Sheila Webb $500,000 and ex-deputy Cameron Duecker pay an additional $50,000 for an incident that played out in February of that year and ended with the plaintiff being shot with a stun-gun several times.
According to the civil suit filed against the sheriff's department and Duecker, Webb called 911 to her Irmo home to report that her brother was unlawfully using their bedridden mother's vehicle. The lawsuit states that Duecker responded and ultimately arrested Webb for disorderly conduct and assault while resisting arrest.
During the arrest, the suit states that Duecker used his stun gun on Webb before removing her from her home.
Duecker was ultimately charged with third-degree assault and battery and turned himself in later that month and several days after being suspended. The charges against Webb were dismissed, the lawsuit states.
Webb later filed the lawsuit alleging that Duecker, acting in his capacity as a deputy, violated her rights by, among other things, assaulting and falsely imprisoning her.
The lawsuit also alleged that the sheriff's department was negligent in hiring Duecker, who it says was previously terminated from the Columbia Police Department following the unlawful arrest of a University of South Carolina professor - a case that led to a $200,000 lawsuit in 2017.
Nearly four years later, a jury found that Duecker committed an unreasonable seizure, used excessive force, and caused injury to Webb. The jury found that he owes $50,000 to Webb.
The jury also found that the Richland County Sheriff's Department owes $500,000 to Webb under the South Carolina Tort Claims Act, finding that Duecker was grossly negligent when he entered her home and assaulted, battered, and falsely imprisoned her.
The jury further announced that the sheriff's department didn't prove that Duecker's conduct was outside the scope of his official duties but jurors also didn't find that the sheriff's department was negligent in retaining or supervising him.
RCSD responds to verdict
The sheriff's department, however, has since released a statement stating that the department acted quickly after the incident.
"The real story is that the Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s system of holding deputies accountable worked," the department said in an issued statement. "Following the February 1, 2019 incident, deputies brought Duecker’s actions to the attention of their superiors. They did not feel that Duecker’s actions were proper. RCSD immediately began an internal investigation and suspended Duecker without pay pending the outcome."
The statement also suggested that both the department and the plaintiff were in agreement that Duecker's actions were not in accordance with policing standards.
"The jury agreed with Sheriff Lott that Duecker was not acting in accordance with his community policing standards or his mission of earning the trust of Richland County citizens," the statement continued.
Ultimately, the statement, citing the sheriff, said that what happened to Webb was unacceptable and "tarnished the RCSD badge and oath."
And while the statement said that the sheriff anticipates filing post-trial motions, it's not clear whether there will be an appeal filed.