City seeks more time to mull NAACP chief’s case
COLUMBIA (AP) — Columbia city prosecutors told a judge on Friday they need more time to evaluate whether to prosecute state NAACP President Lonnie Randolph on charges of refusing to pay his dry cleaning bill and fighting with officers.
An attorney for Randolph, 63, had asked that misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct, trespass and resisting arrest be dismissed, arguing that his client was having a diabetic attack when he was arrested earlier this month.
Columbia police were called on July 12 to a Five Points dry cleaners by an employee who said Randolph would not pay for his clothes and would not leave. Officers said Randolph did not answer their initial questions and looked frantic as he rifled through his pockets.
Officers said they took Randolph outside and told him he should not re-enter the store or he would face trespassing charges.
Police said he yelled that he did not understand, and officers decided to arrest him. The officers said Randolph struggled, so they forced him to the ground and then struck him in the chest when he refused to get in the patrol car. Randolph ended up with a busted lip, police said.
Interim Columbia Police Chief Ruben Santiago has already said that he agreed Randolph’s medical problem likely led to him not listening to officers, adding that he expected a judge to drop the misdemeanor charges.
Along with the dismissal request, Randolph’s attorney has filed multiple affidavits from people who know his client and say they can attest to his diabetic episodes. Among the statements is a missive from Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, who said he has watched Randolph having a diabetic attack and says his officers are trained to recognize such types of episodes.
In another affidavit, state Rep. Kirkman Finlay, a former Columbia City Council member, said Randolph was almost arrested in 2009 during another diabetic episode that happened in front of his own home.
On Friday, prosecutors said they need more time to review those claims and interview witnesses, and the judge considering the case did not rule on the affidavits.
Joe McCulloch, Randolph’s attorney, said he was disappointed because he wants to stop the damage to his client’s reputation.