Former Horry County officer sues police department

A former Horry County police officer is suing the police department, another former officer and an assistant solicitor claiming he was falsely accused of a crime.

Greg Eliason claims the false charges were retaliation against him for finding an officer drunk in a car.

Eliason is asking for back wages and punitive damages, plus attorneys fees.

In his suit, which was moved from Horry County Court to U.S District Court in Florence last week, Eliason claims he lost his job and good reputation and suffered emotional distress after he was falsely accused of being involved with the Hells Angels.

Eliason claims in his suit that one night in 2011, while he was on duty as an officer, he found fellow police officer Mike Cannon sleeping in a car intoxicated.

The suit says Cannon assured Eliason that night that he would not drive and "would sleep it off."

Soon after, an anonymous letter sent to Horry County Council made a number of allegations against the police department, including the incident involving Cannon.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division conducted an investigation into the letter's allegations, but Eliason claims he was never questioned regarding the Cannon matter.

Around the same time, the county police department raided the local Hells Angels chapter, arresting dozens of people on marijuana manufacturing and other charges.

Eliason says at the time he was working part-time as a salesman for a construction-related business that employed some other people who had possible Hells Angels involvement, though he claims he had little contact with those employees.

According to the suit, Eliason claims Cannon tried to use that connection to incriminate Eliason as being involved with the Hells Angels.

The suit claims Cannon urged assistant solicitor Donna Elder, who the suit says was in a personal relationship with Cannon at the time, to file drug charges against Eliason.

The suit claims Eliason was suspended without pay for a criminal investigation, and then resigned from his job after hiring an attorney.

Eliason states in his suit the accusations were false and in retaliation for "...telling the truth regarding Cannon being drunk alongside the road..."

A few months later, the suit says, Cannon resigned from the police department.

The suit claims the criminal charges against Eliason were dismissed.

For their part, Cannon, Elder and the other defendants denied, point by point, the allegations in Eliason's suit, in their response filed in federal court last week.

The response claims Cannon's retirement from the department was not related to Eliason's case, and that " criminal charges were ever brought against" Eliason, so they could not have been dismissed.

A spokesman for the police department says they do not comment on pending litigation.

WPDE NewsChannel 15 tried to reach Eliason's attorney, Bonnie T. Hunt from Goose Creek. She did not return our calls.

Samuel Arthur, the attorney representing the defendants, told NewsChannel 15 he's looking forward to a resolution of the case in court, but had no other comment.