Sheriff’s Office Wins in Civil Case

A Civil Suit against the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office concluded yesterday, with a jury ruling in favor of the Sheriff’s Office.

In closing arguments for the plaintiff, Attorney Tommy Thompson attempted to persuade the jury that the entire fault of the wreck belonged to Barton Holmes, who was a deputy with the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office on the night of August 15th of 2013. The plaintiff’s argument was that Deputy Holmes made an illegal U-turn on Highway 76, east of Laurens, after he met a speeding vehicle that was headed into Laurens. During the U-turn, the deputy’s car was struck by a vehicle driven by a Ms. King, and both cars were in the roadway and/or median when the car of the plaintiff, a now 91-year-old Ms. Watts of Clinton, struck Ms. King’s car. Her car then crashed into a nearby fence at Dixie Iron and Metal Works. Attorney Thompson contended that Ms. Watts was unable to see the wrecked vehicles because the Deputy didn’t have his lights on. Thompson said the deputy was negligent in not performing all necessary safety procedures.

Thompson’s closing arguments included calling Deputy Holmes a “Bad gun with a hot car.” He suggested the deputy had joined the military, knowing he needed to testify at this trial. Thompson suggested the deputy has a “checkered past,” due to holding many positions and “running away to join the military.”

Defense Attorney Rusty Harter countered that Holmes honorably served the Laurens County Sheriff’s office, led the DARE program and was a School Resource Officer. Attorney Harter said of the officer, “He left his family to serve his country, was admitted into Special Forces Training, which is far from having a “Checkered Past!”

After closing arguments, the case went to the jury midafternoon. During the trial, the jury viewed a video of the wreck taken by a security camera at Dixie Iron and Metals, near the wreck. The plaintiff’s attorney did not want the video submitted as evidence. During yesterday afternoon’s jury deliberations, they requested to see the video again. It was shortly after seeing the video again that the jury returned with their verdict in favor of the Sheriff’s Office.

With the jury ruling for the defendant, Ms. Watts will not receive the suggested $1,000,000 payment, nor any compensation.