Lawsuit: Deputy asked out woman while taking her to jail

Posted at 9:01 AM, Dec 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-16 09:01:25-05

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina deputy arresting a woman and her boyfriend said the woman was “too pretty” and asked for her number while taking her to jail, according to a lawsuit.

The lawsuit is one of two accusing Greenville County sheriff’s deputies of misconduct during the same 2017 arrest, The Greenville News reports. The other lawsuit was filed by the woman’s boyfriend, who says he was thrown to the ground and wrongfully arrested. All charges against the couple were later dropped and the deputy accused of being inappropriate toward the woman was later suspended for eight hours.

The lawsuits filed by Jessica Lane Hartley and Thomas Charles Jones allege the deputies started harassing the couple on Nov. 25, 2017, when they were attempting to move Hartley’s car out of a road. Sgt. Robert Curtis demanded Jones show some identification, but Jones objected and said the deputy was “out of line,” the lawsuits say. None of the officers had probable cause to believe Jones had committed any crimes, they say.

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It was then that the deputy punched Jones in the mouth and threw him to the ground with the help of Deputy Valentin Santos, according to the lawsuits, which say Hartley was also thrown to the ground upon trying to help Jones. Hartley’s fall lifted her dress up, exposing her underwear for about five minutes before a deputy helped her to her feet, the lawsuits say.

The couple was then arrested. Hartley’s lawsuit alleges Deputy Jason Brooks complimented her looks and told her he’d take care of her when asked if she was going to be jailed. She was loaded into the back of Brooks’ patrol car, where he allegedly held up a note to the plexiglass so she could read the message, “Can I call you later?”

Out of fear, Hartley gave the deputy her number, the lawsuit says. The two texted, but Hartley stopped responding once the deputy said he couldn’t help get charges dropped against her boyfriend, it says.

Sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Ryan Flood said an internal affairs investigation determined Brooks violated policy while taking Hartley to jail.

“During that transport the female gave Brooks her phone number,” Flood said in an email. “The two exchanged text messages which was deemed inappropriate.”

The probe cleared the other deputies, he said. Santos’ background file shows he was fired for misconduct in 2018, but the file doesn’t provide further detail, according to the newspaper. Flood said the termination was unrelated to the couple’s arrest and treatment.

The sheriff’s office hasn’t yet formally responded to the lawsuits. The newspaper has requested dash camera video from the arrest, along with personnel files for Brooks and Santos.