Family of late police officer files lawsuit in his death
The family of David Watson filed a wrongful death lawsuit on November 2 against South Carolina Department of Public Safety and the Chesterfield Police Department in Watson's death.
He committed suicide on August 29, 2012.
He was arrested on June 2, 2012 for DUI . The suit specifically names the officers involved in Watson's arrest. They are trooper Leslie Davis, Chesterfield police officer Robert Adams and Chesterfield Police Chief Eric Hewitt.
Watson was fired from his position as a detective with the Cheraw Police Department the day after he was charged with DUI.
Watson's family believes his arrest ended his career in law enforcement and was a major factor in his suicide.
The lawsuit says the officers conduct is found to have been outside the course and scope of their employment. It also says they lacked probable cause for the initial traffic stop and subsequent search warrant and arrest.
Watson was in his white, unmarked patrol car parked outside the Bojangles in Chesterfield on June 2 using its free Wi-Fi.
According to the lawsuit, trooper Davis called the Chesterfield County 911 saying his grandmother called him asking for an officer to check out a white suspicious car in the Bojangles parking lot.
The lawsuit provides records in the form of online obituaries and an engagement announcement that say Davis lied about the call from his grandmother because it says both his grandmothers are dead.
"Oh my grandmother just called me. She's sitting in Bojangles and a white car with tinted windows come up and is parking outside. Nobody can see in and they just want somebody to come out and check it out," Davis said to the 911 dispatcher.
Dispatchers called officer Robert Adams, asking him to check out the situation.
In the 911 call between the dispatcher and Adams, the disptcher said "Leslie Davis just called me and said that his grandma's in Bojangles and there's a white four door car with tinted windows that's out there in the gravel parking lot part."
According to the lawsuit, Adams passed a white car matching the description, so he turned his car around to follow it.
Adams reported that he noticed the car belonged to David Watson with Cheraw police, according to the suit.
He followed Watson until Watson pulled in his driveway on West Main Street.
The lawsuit says Adams reported that Watson had slurred speech and there was an odor of alcohol coming from the car and on Watson.
It goes on to say Watson admitted that he had been drinking earlier that day.
At that point, the suit says Davis then pulled up.
Watson went inside his home and locked the door and would not respond to unlock the door, according to the lawsuit.
It says he eventually came out, but refused to do a field sobriety test and was placed under arrest for DUI.
Watson's family is seeking actual, consequential and punitive damages.
SC Highway Patrol and the Chesterfield Police Department won't comment on pending litigation.