A man from Aiken, South Carolina died while in the custody of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department. Bernice Junior Smith, III, 32, went unresponsive after being apprehended on an outstanding warrant for shoplifting. The cause of Smith’s death is under investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the Lexington County Coroner’s Office. Three deputies involved in the arrest have been placed on administrative leave. Karlton Clay,Richard Adams reported
A man from Aiken, South Carolina, has been identified as the individual who died while in the custody of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department. The Lexington County Coroner’s Office has confirmed that Bernice Junior Smith, III, aged 32, went unresponsive after being apprehended by the sheriff’s department on Wednesday, August 9th. Following his unresponsiveness, Smith was transported by emergency medical services to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead upon arrival. The Lexington County Sheriff, Jay Koon, has initiated an internal review and requested the State Law Enforcement Division to conduct an impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding Smith’s death.
The encounter between Smith and a Lexington County Sheriff’s Deputy took place at a store in the Red Bank community. The deputy recognized Smith, who had an outstanding warrant for shoplifting, and engaged in conversation with him. However, when the deputy mentioned the warrant, Smith abruptly ended the conversation and fled. Pursuing deputies eventually located Smith in the woods and used a Taser to subdue him after he failed to comply with verbal commands. Smith was handcuffed and being escorted back to a patrol vehicle when he began experiencing medical distress. Deputies promptly removed the handcuffs and provided medical assistance while awaiting the arrival of paramedics. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday, August 11th, at the Medical University of Charleston.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, in conjunction with the Lexington County Coroner’s Office, is conducting an investigation into the incident. As a precautionary measure, the three deputies involved in Smith’s arrest have been placed on administrative leave..