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Former deputies' decertification recorded at CJA

Investigation into prisoner's beating continues

Posted: September 1, 2010 2:55 p.m.
Updated: September 3, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Oddie Tribble Jr., the former Kershaw County Sheriff's Office (KCSO) deputy accused of beating an arrested man with an asp 27 times Aug. 5, is no longer certified as a law enforcement officer. Neither is Jimmy Simmons, the deputy accused of not acting to prevent Tribble from harming the victim.

Tribble is accused of striking Charles Shelley 27 times with an asp after transporting Shelley in a KCSO van to the Kershaw County Detention Center (KCDC). Tribble claimed in a report that Shelley, who was arrested on several charges at a license checkpoint earlier that evening, had threatened his life and the lives of his wife and daughter. In a videotape provided by KCDC's director, Shelley does not appear to be resisting Tribble's control in any way.

Brandy Duncan, general counsel for the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy (CJA), said her office is now in possession of personnel change in status, or PCS, reports notifying the CJA of both Tribble's and Simmons' separations from the KCSO due to misconduct. Kershaw County government officials have already confirmed that both Tribble and Simmons are no longer on the county's payroll. As the C-I reported Aug. 18, Simmons was confirmed to have been terminated Aug. 12.

"We received this on Aug. 25, but it was not processed by our certification unit until this morning," Duncan said Wednesday of Tribble's PCS in an e-mail that included a copy of the document.

She later forwarded a copy of Simmons' PCS, dated Aug. 26 and processed within CJA Wednedsay.

Tribble's PCS, signed in three different places by Sheriff Steve McCaskill, indicated Tribble's separation for "misconduct in office." The nature of the misconduct was listed as "physical or psychological abuses of members of the public and/or prisoners." A part of the PCS listed as a misconduct report supplement said "Oddie Tribble was terminated on 08/06/2010 for physically abusing a prisoner on 08/05/2010. A(n) independent investigation is being conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division" (SLED).

The PCS was date stamped by CJA's certification division on Aug. 25. The form was sigtned and dated Aug. 20, just meeting a 15-day requirement to file such papers. Duncan pointed out, however, that Tribble actually lost his certifications the day he was fired.

"'All certification lapses when an individual terminates active law enforcement duty,'" Duncan quoted S.C. Reg. 38-008(D)(1). "Therefore, the moment Mr. Tribble no longer worked for a law enforcement agency, he was no longer a certified law enforcement officer.This is true for all separations from law enforcement employment in South Carolina, whether that separation imply an officer quitting to work at another law enforcement agency or a termination."

That doesn't necessarily mean Tribble couldn't find work as a law enforcement officer again, said Duncan.

"If Mr. Tribble were to find another law enforcement employer, (they) would send documentation into CJA requesting Mr. Tribble's certification be reissued. Upon receipt of that request, CJA would look into the allegations made by Kershaw regarding Mr. Tribble's separation to determine if (he) had committed misconduct," Duncan said.

She went on to say that if the CJA determined Tribble had committed one of the eight forms of misconduct defined in the regulation -- which includes the physical or psychological abuse Tribble is accused of -- then the request for his certification to be reissued would be denied. Tribble could then contest the denial through an appeals process.

"If it was found by CJA that Mr. Tribble had not committed misconduct as defined ... then the request for re-issuance of (his) certification would be granted," said Duncan.

Simmons' PCS also indicated he was "separated" from the KCSO for misconduct in office in connection with the physical or psychological abuse of a prisoner. Specifically, McCaskill wrote in that misconduct report supplement, "James Simmons Jr. was terminated on 08/12/2010 for failing to act while a prisoner was being abused on 08/05/2010."

SLED has been working with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to determine whether Shelley's civil rights were violated. When completed, the results of that investigation may result in state charges, but may also be turned over to the South Carolina U.S. Attorney's office for prosecution on federal charges.

U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles said the investigation is still ongoing.

"We're going to let the investigation take its course," Nettles said Thursday.

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