PICKENS COUNTY — An investigation into the death of an Easley man while in police custody has been turned over to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
Pickens County Coroner Kandy Kelley said 42-year-old Randall Dale Scruggs of Easley died from “asphyxia from aspiration of hemorrhagic gastric contents from thoracic/ abdominal compression” and was pronounced dead at Cannon Memorial Hospital on May 28.
Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Creed Hashe released a statement just after receiving the Coroner’s report stating all further investigation in Scruggs’ death was being turned over to South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED.)
According to the statement, PCSO deputies responded to “a disturbance” on S.C. 11 in Sunset around 3 p.m. May 28 to find Scruggs lying face down in a large area of brush on the shoulder of the road.
“The victim’s mother advised that while driving her son down the highway, he became irrational and ‘out of control,’” stated Hashe. “The mother went on to describe that Mr. Scruggs was making statements that indicated that he thought people were actively trying to hurt him and she became frightened that he would attempt to jump from the moving vehicle.”
Hashe said other witnesses also stopped and called for help when they saw Scruggs running into traffic.
“Two additional deputies arrived on the scene and attempts to calm Mr. Scruggs never ceased throughout the event as confirmed by the witnesses,” he said. “Mr. Scruggs repeatedly attempted to get up from a seated position on the ground and run from the deputies.”
Scruggs was handcuffed during the encounter on the shoulder of the road to prevent him from running into traffic an additional time, said Hashe.
Authorities state an ambulance arrived shortly afterwards at which point Scruggs told the EMS crew that he had been taking methamphetamine.
“As the medics were retrieving a stretcher, the victim proceeded to vomit and subsequently lost consciousness,” said Hashe.
Scruggs was transported to Cannon Hospital where he was pronounced dead just after 4 p.m.
Upon receipt of the documents from the Coroner’s Office on Aug. 14, Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark made an official request to SLED for an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the man’s death.
“After receiving the information contained within the documents that have been provided to me today, I am confident that there is a lot of information that has not been released and perhaps cannot be released due to HIPPA and privacy concerns,” said Clark.
“Our deputies were confronted with an irrational adult male that was a danger to himself and not in his right state of mind due to the influence of methamphetamine based on his own statements at the scene,” Clark added. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and I want them to know that I will take every measure to be absolutely sure that our agency’s involvement in this tragic incident was appropriate.”
Clark said based on witness statements and forensic reports that he does not have “any immediate concerns” in the actions that were taken by the deputies as they dealt with the situation.
The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office has declined making any additional statements pending the outcome of the SLED investigation.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.