Brent Nicholson seems to have been a very busy man. When authorities raided his (and his father’s) home they found chainsaws, tools and guns; lots of them. According to the Huffington Post:
Chesterfield County Sheriff’s deputies discovered the astonishing stash of firearms Friday night while raiding the Pageland home of Brent Nicholson. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said Monday the estimate of weapons still varied, but could range between 7,000 to 10,000 weapons — many of them never used.
“There were so many guns we quit counting after a while,” Sheriff Jay Brooks told the Charlotte Observer over the weekend.
While Nicholson seems to be involved in many facets of the underworld most of which had no victim – allegedly selling drugs – while others – possessing stolen property – did. So, I’ll spare you the usual no victim no crime rant on the drug charges and how I hope to see the property returned to the rightful owners. Instead I’ll focus on three things the police did that are highly questionable.
The Sheriff had inmates on hand to help remove the stolen property, stopped counting guns that were to be inventoried (so that they can be returned to their owners) and claim that this “haul” will clear up many of the open thefts in that area.
Having inmates help secure evidence under the provision of a warrant is clearly a mistake. There are many processes that must be followed when evidence is logged. The reason police don’t hire outside help for this is due to the liability created to the chain of evidence. That’s the same reason they don’t use inmates to do their dirty work either. Of course the Sheriff backs his actions stating:
Sheriff Jay Brooks said he needed the help trying to collect thousands of stolen items from all over the property. It was going to take days, and some officers had already worked 48 hours straight.
“We only have 65 people who work for this department. We had to have help,” Brooks said.
So those inmates were brought from the detention center to the work site.
However, Detention Center Administrator Sheila Gillespie wrote a letter to the Attorney General accusing the sheriff of using inmates on private property, and letting them handle the guns.
PDF: Letter on inappropriate use of inmate labor
Now whether or not you think this is ‘that big of a deal’ is irrelevant but you can be damned sure that Nicholson’s attorney is going to be filing motions to have the evidence collected by inmates thrown out. That probably doesn’t matter since so many items seemed to have been stolen, yet, if I were a victim of these thefts I’d like to get some justice. The Sheriff jeopardize that when he tainted the chain of evidence with inmates. Nicholas probably knows this since he’s beat 20 charges that include things ranging from minor traffic violations to unlawful sale and possession of firearms. Records show all of the charges were either dismissed or disposed by a judge. Now Nicholas might get to walk again thanks to lazy police work.
“There were so many guns we quit counting after a while,” Sheriff Jay Brooks told the Charlotte Observer.
I had to read that twice and at two different sources before I truly believed it. This must be one of the dumbest Sheriff’s in the country, no, world for that matter. How does Brooks intend to property charge Nicholas if he can’t even count? How does he expect to return the property to the rightful owners if he didn’t count the property at all? This will be yet another hole for Nicholson to exploit since the sheriff didn’t want to take his time and do the inventory process by the book.
Since when are the police concerned with doing thing efficiently and quickly? When the police are pressed to release a video of one of their own killing someone they claim to hold on to it so that the investigation isn’t tainted. Wouldn’t it seem logical to take your time, file the seized inventory property and reduce your chances of letting Nicholas walk again?
Of course not! Brooks had already made up his mind about Nicholas. Which brings me to my last point. Even though the sheriff wasn’t logging all the evidence while using inmates to sort or haul it he was certain that Nicholson was the man responsible for stealing the property. Is this a top cop’s hunch or is he merely being even more lazy?
It’s highly probable that Nicholas – being involved in the drug trade – was merely buying the guns or trading them for drugs. Yet, Brook’s is ready to close all the cases of theft with Nicholson’s name. Does this shows a bias towards Nicholson from the Sheriff and is another reason he could walk from any charges? Or is the Sheriff just lazy when he refuses to count items, uses slave labor (inmates) and blames every (basically) theft in that area on one man?
If you take a look a Nicholson (pictured right) he doesn’t seem like a stealthy dude. I’m guessing he wasn’t sneaking down chimneys to steal people’s stuff but this whole story stinks. The police claimed to have ‘known’ about Nicholson for a long time but had never arrested him, never came to his property to see stolen items in plain sight or to his father’s place where MORE stolen goods were stored? He had been arrested an astonishing 20 times before this without a single charge sticking! Now all the sudden the laziest police work in the world leads to a big bust? A bust that is rushed to completion, skipped steps and more?!?!? Yeah, I don’t know what went on here but I’m willing to be that a bunch of cops (and probably a few inmates) have some cool new toys.
NEWS CLIP OF INMATE LABOR: