Bernice Junior Smith, III, a 32-year-old man from Aiken, died after being tasered by Lexington County deputies. The incident occurred when deputies approached Smith at a Walmart and discovered he had an active warrant for theft. Smith attempted to flee but was eventually subdued with a Taser. He became unresponsive and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department has requested an investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. Three deputies have taken leave in compliance with department policies. Tranquility Paths reported
Obituary of Bernice Smith – Fatal Incident Involving Taser – A man has been identified as the individual who tragically lost his life on Wednesday following the use of a Taser by deputies from the Lexington County. Bernice Junior Smith, III, aged 32 and hailing from Aiken, became unresponsive after being apprehended, as stated by Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher. Smith was subsequently pronounced dead shortly after being admitted to a nearby hospital.
It remains unclear whether Smith passed away at the scene or at the hospital. Fisher has confirmed that an autopsy will take place on Friday at the Medical University of Charleston. According to Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon, a deputy encountered Smith on Wednesday afternoon at a Walmart in Red Bank. While questioning him, the deputy discovered that Smith had an active theft warrant. Smith managed to evade the deputy and escape.
“Deputies pursued him and eventually resorted to using a Taser to subdue him after locating him and finding him uncooperative with verbal commands,” stated Koon. When Smith began displaying signs of distress, the handcuffs were removed from his wrists by the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department (LCSD) deputies, who provided assistance until paramedics arrived to transport him to the hospital.
According to LCSD, three deputies have voluntarily taken paid administrative leave, adhering to departmental policies.
The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department has requested an investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). The LCSD has declined to release its incident report to WIS, citing the ongoing SLED investigation. A representative from SLED confirmed that they do not currently possess the report but have assured its delivery to WIS once obtained. WIS informed LCSD of SLED’s intention to make the report public, reiterating its request, and subsequently issued a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the report and additional data. The LCSD provided WIS with the policy on the use of force, as shared by the department’s spokesperson, Adam Myrick. The policy solely includes documentation on the use of Tasers, categorizing them as intermediate weapons.