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Demetrius Jamison

Other North Carolina exonerations with official misconduct
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On April 26, 2018, police in Orangeburg, South Carolina, stopped 26-year-old Demetrius Jamison and asked him about bulges in his socks. He admitted he was carrying marijuana roaches and then started to run away. However, after about 10 feet, he stopped.

That was too late, and the officers tackled him to the ground and placed him under arrest. Corporal Justin Harris, who was the ranking officer at the scene, questioned the officers about what happened. Officer Cody Miles said he was struck in the face—it would later be determined that he sustained a broken eye socket—and Officer Phillip Martin suffered an injured ankle. Officers Jacklyn Reed and Nicholas Smoak were not hurt.

Jamison was charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, a felony, as well as misdemeanor assault and battery, and resisting arrest.

On April 27, Jamison appeared in Orangeburg City Court where a municipal judge refused to grant him bond. The judge told Jamison “You have an officer who has sustained severe injuries that are possibly career ending. That is of grave concern to the court.”

Police Chief Mike Adams said, “This individual standing before us appears to be highly dangerous, especially to law enforcement.”

Jamison denied harming the officers or touching them at all.

On June 6, Jamison went to trial on the misdemeanor battery charge in Orangeburg City Court. He was not represented by a lawyer.

Officer Smoak testified that Jamison had headbutted Miles and injured Martin during the struggle to arrest him. Smoke said that Miles was knocked out and suffered a concussion.

Jamison testified that while he did have marijuana roaches and jerked away initially, he did not headbutt Miles or twist Martin’s ankle. At the conclusion of the one-day trial, the judge convicted Jamison of misdemeanor battery. The judge said, “We cannot allow people to harm our officers.”

Jamison was sentenced to 53 days in jail and given credit for 43 days he had already served awaiting trial. He remained in custody after completing his sentence as he awaited trial on the felony charge.

In August 2018, Justin Bamberg, an attorney who by then was representing Jamison, obtained a copy of an internal police department memo created on June 3—three days before Jamison’s misdemeanor trial—that detailed how the officers who had been injured were actually hurt by their fellow officers, not by Jamison.

According to the documents, on May 7, 2018—less than two weeks after Jamison was arrested—the Orangeburg police training office reviewed the police body camera footage from the arrest. When a lieutenant noticed there was no contact between Jamison and the officers, he requested a copy of a “use of force report,” which was required to be completed when officers used force to subdue a suspect. However, the report had not been completed—a breach of policy.

When the report was finally completed by Corporal Harris on June 3, it said that Jamison headbutted Miles while Jamison was “actively resisting” arrest. The report was approved by a sergeant, and then by a captain and ultimately Orangeburg police chief Mike Adams.

After receiving this report, the training officer wrote a memorandum that said a review of the body camera footage showed that Officers Smoak and Martin took Jamison to the ground. While they were attempting to handcuff him, Officer Miles jumped on Smoak’s back. At that point, Martin had pinned Jamison’s head to the ground with his arm.

“It is clear that (Jamison) never made physical contact or attempted to make contact with…Miles. This claim appears to be false,” the training officer wrote. “Officer Miles should be immediately relieved from duty and have an internal investigation…to find out why the officer made false claims against the suspect and if criminal charges need to be pursued.”

In fact, the body camera footage recorded Officer Miles at the scene saying to his fellow officers, “One of you hit me in the face…somebody headbutted me.” And when Martin was asked what was wrong with his ankle, he replied, “Smoak’s big ass landed on it.”

At that point, according to the footage, Corporal Harris said, “All right, listen. We’re only going to do this one way.” He pointed at Miles, Martin, and Smoak and said, “You were assaulted, you were assaulted and he was assaulted.”

Bamberg provided the documents to the First District Solicitor’s Office, which was prosecuting the felony assault and battery charge. On August 27, 2018, the Solicitor’s Office dismissed the charge. At that time, Jamison pled guilty to resisting arrest. He was not sentenced to any further jail time. However, he was not released immediately because the city claimed he owed unpaid fines for the misdemeanor conviction and for unpaid parking tickets. On August 31, Jamison was allowed to go free after being granted a signature bond.

In September 2018, the city of Orangeburg asked the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to open an investigation of the officers.

In June 2019, Bamberg filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Orangeburg seeking damages for Jamison. The lawsuit said that after the training officer prepared his report exposing the false accusations of the officers, a black rat was left on his office desk.

“That memo, which basically proves my client’s innocence, was hidden and never even provided to the solicitor’s office, who was going to be prosecuting the assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature charge,” Bamberg said. “I’m bothered, as I think everyone should be, that (the police) would continue to prosecute an individual of charges they knew were unfounded and grounded in false allegations.”

“We have every expectation that the city will step up, will do the right thing and financially compensate Mr. Jamison for the 3,048 hours he spent in jail on malicious and false charges,” Bamberg said.

On July 23, 2019, Jamison’s misdemeanor conviction was vacated and the charge was dismissed.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 12/20/2019
State:South Carolina
County:Orangeburg
Most Serious Crime:Other Violent Misdemeanor
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2018
Convicted:2018
Exonerated:2019
Sentence:53 days
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:26
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No