Aiken Community Members Come Together to Address Recent Issues with Law Enforcement

Several local groups met with the Aiken community Monday night to address concerns over a traffic stop.

Last week a video began to circulate the internet of Lakeya Hicks and Elijah Pontoon being stopped by South Carolina police at Horry Street and Richland Avenue back in October of 2014. Pontoon, his lawyers and local activist groups all say he was subject to an illegal cavity search.

So many people came out to the meeting that the group had to move to a much larger room.

The town hall meeting was put on by the leader of the Aiken NAACP branch and the Concerned Ministers Fellowship to discuss law enforcement concerns… and there were quite a few.

This recently released video shows Aiken Department of Public Safety officers pulling over and searching Lakeya Hicks and Elijah Pontoon. It’s what’s not shown on the video that’s causing an uproar within the community.

You can hear someone on the dashcam video saying “Are you trying to pull my … pants down?”

“Is it okay to search another human’s rectum and to expose a woman’s breasts on a busy downtown street in broad daylight, and all because the car was stopped for a possibly improper tag,” one man said during the meeting.

Hicks and Pontoon claim the three officers who pulled them over performed an illegal cavity search and exposed Hick’s breasts on the side of the road.

“They were violated on the side of the road here in broad daylight, in Aiken, back in October of 2014, and have continued to be violated for the 17 months that this has gone on, before it became an issue, and before it was brought to light,” Christopher Wilson with Wilson and Luginbill Law Firm said.

Their lawyer says the couple filed an incident report after the alleged encounter 17 months ago, but nothing has been done or even said until now.

“The dashcam video from Aiken public safety’s own police car clearly captures the actions of the police officers that day,” Wilson explained.

County Councilman Wilar Hightower says he’s disappointed with the Department of Public Safety.

“When you see things on the news about blacks getting shot in the care of the police and that kind of thing, it’s because they don’t have respect for the blacks, that’s the problem, and I still think we have that kind of thing on the Aiken Department of Public Safety,” Hightower said.

Some people have tried to say there was no cavity search. After watching the video Hightower and others say the dialogue proves otherwise.

One of the deputies can be heard saying, “I think he has a rock because that ain’t no hemorrhoid that hard.”

“If you listen to the tape you can not come away understanding that that was no cavity search, why would anyone mention… hemorrhoids,” Hightower said.

Aiken city council also met tonight and during their meeting they made an emergency addition to the agenda to talk about this incident. They decided to create a citizens review board to handle Aiken public safety complaints.

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