Chesterfield Co. deputies testify about lack of training, inmate privileges

by: Greg Suskin Updated:


CHESTERFIELD, S.C. - Reporter Greg Suskin will be in the courtroom throughout the trial. Follow him on Twitter @GSuskin for the latest.  Follow along using the hashtag #ParkerTrial.

"We were doing the wrong thing," said Chesterfield County Sheriff's Deputy Troy Timney about the alleged lack of training for several sheriff's reserve officers.

The indictment against former county Sheriff Sam Parker alleged he allowed untrained civilians to carry guns, radios, wear badges and act as reserve deputies. 
Several of those reserve deputes did not attend required training at the Law Enforcement Academy in Columbia, S.C.
Timney testified Wednesday that he brought up the issue to the sheriff, concerned about the liability the department could face. 
He was told they were in compliance with the law. 
Later, several police agencies around the state received a letter from the academy outlining specifically the training required for reserves, or class 3 officers. 
Timney said he showed the letter to Parker, who said, "The letter is wrong."
Defense lawyer Greg Harris asked Timney if he thought, at the time, that what the sheriff was doing was illegal.
"I know it is now," Timney responded.
Prosecutor Heather Weiss asked Timney why he didn't press the issue after that.
"I didn't question it,” Timney said. “He was my superior. My boss."
Testimony also included the issue of the sheriff being accused of giving special privileges to two jail inmates.
The indictment alleged Mike Lee and William Skipper slept in the armory instead of the jail, drove county vehicles, ate out, shopped, wore street clothes, had access to women, guns and drugs and were rarely supervised. 
In exchange for those freedoms, prosecutors said, they both did work for the sheriff on his property and in his home. 
Timney testified he saw them outside the jail, in plain clothes, eating out and in sheriff's vehicles.
He said Parker spoke to his officers about those two inmates, making it clear Skipper and Lee were his, and they were not to ask questions.
"He told us to leave them alone, or we'd be either fired or indicted," he said.
Another deputy, John David McCarn, said, "The inmates were off-limits, and we'd get in trouble if we did anything with them."
Late Wednesday, Department of Corrections official Blake Taylor told the jury about what inmates on loan to local counties are allowed and not allowed to do.
He said the Department of Corrections has a contract with local counties that details rules and restrictions for inmates, the jobs they are allowed to do and the supervision required.
Blake testified that inmates are never allowed to be unsupervised outside the jail or do any of the things Parker is accused of allowing.
Skipper and Lee are expected to testify for the prosecution.
Parker faces five counts of misconduct in office, a count of embezzlement and two counts of furnishing contraband to inmates. 
He stepped down as sheriff in March 2013.