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Altercation at Richland County courthouse leads to 23-year deputy's suspension

Deputy Robert C. Oates has been suspended without pay pending a criminal investigation into his alleged actions outside the courtroom at 2500 Decker Blvd.

RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. — A longtime Columbia-area deputy has been suspended following a dispute that turned into an altercation outside the Richland County magistrate court on Wednesday.

According to a statement from Sheriff Leon Lott, Deputy Robert C. Oates has been placed on suspension without pay pending a criminal investigation into his alleged actions outside the courtroom at 2500 Decker Blvd.

The sheriff's department said that just before 4 p.m., Oates had an encounter with a man who was at the courthouse regarding a personal court case. The department said that man, identified as Damien Akanno, became "loud and boisterous" toward the judge at the conclusion of the case and continued as he left the courtroom.

The sheriff's department said deputies approached him and asked that he leave the courthouse. Based on the preliminary investigation and body camera video, it was at this point that the altercation began between Oates and Akanno, specifics of which have not yet been released.

Akanno was arrested and charged with breach of peace before being taken to Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. The deputy, meanwhile, is being investigated for his actions.

The sheriff's department said that he has been with the department for 23 years and has reached the rank of corporal.

News19 is working to gather additional information about the incident that led to the suspension and what additional measures both Oates and Akanno may face as a result of the dispute.

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