Upstate superintendent says police chief asked him to drop charges against officers

Courtesy: Index-Journal

ABBEVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – An upstate superintendent says a police chief asked him to drop a complaint against his officers to the State Law Enforcement Division.

Abbeville County School District Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Phipps reported a break-in by officers at Abbeville High School at the end of November but says politics were played when it came to punishment.

The Index-Journal obtained security footage that shows Officer Zane Vickery walking through the halls of the high school, and he and another officer playing basketball in the school gym.

“He came through the building and unlocked the door for another officer to come in at which point they went in the gym, played with the basketball, went in the locker room, tracked mud all in the building, a book was missing, and they left all the lights on, and it appears as if they even left the door unlocked,” Phipps said.

He said Vickery entered the locked school by forcing a window open and damaging it.

“To think that it’s ok to break into a school and do damage, and what I consider vandalism and a theft of a text book, and leaving it unsecure, somewhere in there I think a law was broken,” Phipps said.

Phipps says the solicitor told him that the officer really didn’t break the law. However, he says the biggest surprise came from the police chief early on in the investigation.

“He really wanted me to say that I didn’t want the district to press charges and wanted us to look the other way,” Phipps said.

Vickery did resign, but Phipps says he doesn’t think there was any other real punishment.

“My feeling is if it was not a police officer, I think it would have been handled differently,” Phipps said.

He says he wishes there was more fairness surrounding the situation, so students don’t get the wrong impression.

“Thinking that if you’re a police officer you can do things that are above the law, I think it’s sending the wrong message to our kids,” Phipps said

7News did reach out to both the Abbeville police chief and the county’s solicitor. We are waiting to hear back. We also reached out to SLED. Agents told us they’d get back to us at the end of the week.

Superintendent Phipps is leaving Abbeville School District to go to Lancaster County July 1st.

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