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Richland deputy fired, accused of assaulting woman in custody

The sheriff said the bodycam video shows the deputy grab the woman's hair and slam her to the ground.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A Richland County deputy has been fired and arrested after the sheriff says he assaulted a woman who was in custody.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Wednesday afternoon he'd terminated former Master Deputy Sheriff Kyle Oliver, 29, on charges of assault and battery third degree.

"This is one of those days you stand up here and shake your head and you wonder why there's something like this," Lott said.

Lott said the incident happened back on January 7, but he didn't find out about it until Monday, August 31. He said his staff learned about it from someone outside of the department, and then he ordered an immediate criminal investigation and a review of body cam footage.

The woman had been arrested for a domestic violence incident and taken to Region Four headquarters. As she was sitting on a bench handcuffed behind the back, Lott said she began to bang her head against the wall, putting a hole in the wall. That’s when Lott said the video showed Oliver walk over to her, grab her by the hair, and swing her to the ground. 

“The reason why we have these cameras is to monitor the deputies and their activities.” said Lott.

On Tuesday, the sheriff’s department consulted with the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, which resulted in a warrant. On Wednesday, Oliver was arrested and booked into the Richland County Detention Center.

“His actions are unacceptable, and I will not have it from any of my deputies,” Sheriff Lott said. “I hold my deputies to a much higher standard, and anyone who works for me should know that I will hold them accountable.”

Oliver was hired in July 2013. The most recent rank he held was of master deputy in Region 4, which encompasses most of Northwest Columbia.

Credit: Richland County Detention Center
Kyle Oliver

Lott said the incident revealed a failure in the department’s check and balances of use-of-force reports.

“It’s frustrating that we did not learn of this incident because our checks and balances failed,” Sheriff Lott said. “We are better than this. The community expects better from us. I expect better.”

As a result, Sheriff Lott announced Wednesday the creation of a new position within the internal affairs unit. The sole role of that investigator will be to review body camera footage involving use-of-force incidents.

“This will ensure use-of-force incidents are reviewed by the officer’s chain of command and by internal affairs, regardless whether a complaint is lodged,” Sheriff Lott said.