Heard: April 7, 2014.
Appeal From Richland County. DeAndrea G. Benjamin, Circuit Court Judge.
Robert David Garfield and Andrew F. Lindemann, Davidson & Lindemann, PA, both of Columbia, for Appellant.
Joshua Snow Kendrick and Christopher Shannon Leonard, Kendrick & Leonard, P.C., both of Columbia, and Neal Michael Lourie, Lourie Law Firm, LLC, of Columbia, for Respondent.
FEW, C.J. SHORT and GEATHERS, JJ., concur.
[410 S.C. 29] FEW, C.J.:
The Richland County Sheriff's Department arrested Demetrius Mack--a licensed private security officer--for simple assault after Mack chased, apprehended, and handcuffed
McKenzie Williamson for trespassing at the business where Mack was working. Mack brought suit for false imprisonment against Leon Lott, in his official capacity as Sheriff of Richland County. After a bench trial, the court awarded Mack $7,500 in actual damages, finding the Sheriff lacked probable cause to arrest Mack. We remand for more detailed factual findings as required under Rule 52(a) of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure.
I. Facts and Procedural History
On December 6, 2008, Mack worked as a licensed security officer for D.T.H. Protective Services, which provided security to Club Essence, a nightclub on Weir Avenue in Columbia.
That evening, Williamson attempted several times to enter the club without paying the required cover charge. The fourth time Williamson attempted to enter, Mack approached him, and Williamson " took off" running away from the club. [410 S.C. 30] Mack chased Williamson and eventually arrested him. At some point during the chase and arrest, Williamson was injured.
Senior Corporal James Gore of the Richland County Sheriff's Department witnessed the incident while making an unrelated narcotics arrest approximately 200 yards from Mack and Williamson. After Gore observed Williamson's injuries, he arrested Mack for simple assault. Gore testified he arrested Mack " because he chased [Williamson] into the road and tackled him." Gore explained, " I knew for a fact that [Mack] had no jurisdiction in that roadway, being a private security guard." He later testified, however, " I gave Mr. Williamson the option if he wanted to press charges. And he told me 'yes.' And that was the only reason I took [Mack]."
Mack filed suit for false imprisonment. At trial, Gore testified that sometime between 2:00 ...