CHARLESTON, S.C. – A judge on Wednesday dismissed an assault charge against a former Charleston police officer.
The officer’s attorney Andy Savage said the judge threw out the arrest warrant against Kevin Schlieben just before the trial was about to begin. Schlieben was arrested last November.
According to the arrest warrant, in July 2019 Schlieben slapped the handcuffed Rashad Robinson in the head with an open hand and cursed Robinson while he was lying on the ground.
A report from Schlieben’s commander said the “slap” was in response to the presence of phlegm in Robinson mouth and the guttural sound of spit gathering, presumably to be directed at the officer.
One report indicates something other than a slap, but more fingers touching his head. This should be viewed as an attention getting preemptive move, not a battery.
Savage put the SLED agent who worked the case on the stand Wednesday.
The attorney said the deposition did not match what was stated in the warrant. As a result of the incongruencies, the judge dismissed the charges making a Schlieben a free man.
Savage said the judge dismissed the charge after the jury was seated, WCSC reported.
Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds previously terminated Schlieben, a former officer of the year, yet ultimately offered him a civilian job.
Savage says Schlieben wants his job as a police officer back.
The chief wasn’t finished there. He later fired Schlieben’s commander, Lt. Rusty Myers, a stellar police veteran of 23 years. By all accounts, Myers is collateral damage.
Law Officer covered this incident when it occurred. We didn’t think it passed the smell test, so we published an editorial highlighting some areas that seemed problematic. They included the following, with parenthetical comments added for this article:
- Schlieben and a partner stopped to question Rashad Robinson, 37, for suspicious behavior.
- Robinson had reportedly been pulling door handles to parked vehicles.
- Robinson is a career criminal with 31 arrests on his rap sheet. (Make that 32 arrests. He is currently in custody for armed robbery.)
- Based upon these circumstances, it’s highly likely that Robinson is an opportunist who will steal anything that isn’t nailed to the floor.
- Once a legal detention was initiated, the career criminal knew that trouble loomed, so he bolted.
- Officers engaged in a foot pursuit and caught the would-be-thief.
- Naturally, there is a “struggle” that occurred when the officers caught Robinson. After all, he just tried to get away, so the “fight/flight” usually continues once officers get their hands on the bad guy.
- Robinson is finally placed in handcuffs.
- After he’s in custody, Schlieben apparently does the ill-advised thing by slapping Robinson on the head with an open palm. What is unknown is the forceful nature used during the head slap. (We now know it was barely more than incidental contact in response to a belief he was about to be spit upon.)
- There is no report of Robinson sustaining injury, other than a bruised ego for getting caught. (This was later confirmed. Moreover, he never complained about his treatment.)
- However, both Schlieben and his partner were injured during the foot chase and struggle. The precise injuries they incurred were undisclosed. (Investigative reports indicate there were two foot chases involving this suspect. Both Schlieben and his partner were injured during the foot chase and struggle. Furthermore, a rookie officer was injured by the suspect in an earlier foot pursuit and ultimately forced to leave law enforcement due to a severe infection.)
After the editorial, “Overkill is the punishment du jour for police officers” our suspicions were confirmed.
Nevertheless, details remain confidential so we’ll leave it there.
At the time we wrote, “This is not ‘holding police accountable.’ It’s overkill that is making sacrificial lambs out of good people. What used to be handled through the civil process is now tossed into criminal court.”
Based upon what we now know, this was a case of “head hunting.” Good people were professionally damaged by overzealous leaders looking to appease others due to optics. Shame on all those involved!
- Charleston officer arrested for slapping handcuffed suspect on head following foot pursuit
- Overkill is the punishment du jour for police officers
- What would happen if police smacked someone with a helmet at the end of a pursuit?
WCSD reached out to the city and SLED for a comment.
A SLED spokesman said the agency is reviewing the court’s decision.