News 12 Investigation: Above the Law? (Part 1)

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013

NEW ELLENTON, S.C. (WRDW) -- It's not the New Ellenton Kara Carter used to know.

"I was born and raised here," the lifelong resident tells News 12. "In fact, the house I'm in now is where I was born and raised."

Outside her home, the sights have changed and the sounds too.

"It's not uncommon to hear gunshots out here?" asks News 12 reporter Chad Mills.

"I hear a few here and there," says Carter. "But my daughter who lives one mile down the road hears them quite often, and they're coming from the area called Dodge."

Dodge, a part of town around Green Street, got that nickname as a nod to the 'Wild West'. Just months ago, New Ellenton Police Department Chief Alesia Parks was patrolling on Green Street when she ran into Antoine Williams, who documents say had been running from officers, because he possibly had guns and drugs. However, it was something Williams allegedly said to the Chief Parks that has stirred so much controversy. South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) documents say Williams threatened the life of an Aiken Department of Public Safety Officer Ricky Brown, who owns property in New Ellenton.

"Williams asked Parks to deliver a message to Ricky Brown," the SLED investigative report reads. "Williams said to tell Brown that his gun has bullets too."

"Right now, I cannot tell you anything about this case," says Chief Alesia Parks. "This is an open case, and so I cannot make any comments about the case."

Chief Parks won't say much, but her statement to SLED says Williams did make the threat.

"I told [Williams] that if he killed a cop he wouldn't be justified but if an officer killed him, the officer would," her statement reads. "I told [Williams] if they didn't have anything illegal on them when an officer [approaches] them, then don't run."

At the end of the statement, Parks says she drove off.

Law enforcement sources tell us that Williams also allegedly threatened the lives of the officers at New Ellenton Police Department, allegedly calling her officers "punk ass boys."

South Carolina law says threatening public officials is illegal and an arrestable charge. However, Chief Parks didn't arrest Williams, she didn't charge Williams, and she didn't even type up an incident report.

"Can you tell us why an incident report wasn't filed here at NEPD?" Mills asks Chief Parks.

"I can't make any comments on the case, because it is an open case," she responds.

News 12 later found out that Chief Parks is good friends with a family member of Antoine Williams.

"Can you tell us about your relationship with Loretta Williams, the aunt of the suspect in this case?" asks reporter Mills.

"We friends, but that's common knowledge in the area," says Chief Parks.

Parks says that relationship didn't affect the case, but wouldn't tell us if she believes she handled the case well.

However just weeks after, Williams allegedly threatened another public official. This time, it was Councilman David Dunbar.

"He started coming back this way, and when he did, he had his hand in his back pocket," explained Dunbar in an interview after the incident. "I told my wife to go ahead and call law enforcement because I saw it was getting out of hand."

A report says Williams approached Dunbar and threatened the councilman.

"The suspect told the victim to go f--k himself and he would go and get a gun," the report reads.

Dunbar was so scared, he had to grab his shotgun from inside this home to protect his wife against a possible attack.

"The victim advised the suspect told him that his guns had bullets too," reads the report.

Ultimately, the report says the threat was too vague, so Williams wasn't charged. He wasn't charged by New Ellenton Police for allegedly threatening Officer Brown either.

"Thank God that nothing did happen to the other officer, Officer Brown, because, I mean, I feel like that should have been top priority at the time," says Kara Carter.

Carter isn't convinced that wrongdoing wasn't done. In fact, some have even suggested the chief be investigated by SLED or even charged with Misconduct in Office for failing to report a crime.

"Most people who know me in this area know, no matter what my affiliation is with anybody in the City of New Ellenton, I took an oath to uphold the law, and that's what I do everyday I come to work. I uphold the law for the citizens of New Ellenton," responds Chief Parks.

In the end, Williams was arrested for allegedly threatening the officer. News 12 is told that, weeks later, only after Officer Brown warned Chief Parks that Williams might be dangerous, Parks told Brown that he should watch out too. Startled by the admission, Officer Brown e-mailed SLED directly.

"The chief [has] not done anything about this, not even an incident report," wrote Brown.

Weeks later, a task-force of SLED agents and deputies from the Aiken County Sheriff's Office arrested Williams in New Ellenton. Williams was charged with Threatening the Life of a Public Employee, and he not awaits his trial. He was also charged with Possession of Cocaine.

New Ellenton Mayor Vernon Dunbar, a friend of Officer Brown, met with Chief Parks and the town's police commissioner. The mayor says Chief Parks did not perceive what Williams allegedly said as a threat. When asked, Mayor Dunbar says he would have perceived the reported language as a threat, however.

Meanwhile, Dunbar says he has not requested a SLED investigation.

On Thursday night at 11 o'clock, New 12 will continue this investigation. In that story, a state representative tells us the police department should disband.

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