Benjamin responds to Chief Carter firing

Mayor-Elect Steve Benjamin issued a statement on the firing of Police Chief Tandy Carter.

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Columbia Police Chief Tandy Carter has been fired. The announcement came at a press briefing Monday afternoon at Police Headquarters.

"I am not a puppet police chief. I do what is ethical. I do what is lawful and I try very hard to make sure the Constitution and the laws and ordinances are enforced constitutionally across the board as well as consistently," Carter said during the 20 minute briefing.

Carter referenced that he did not violate his own code of ethics.

Monday morning, Carter received a letter from City Manager Steve Gantt saying his termination "is in the best interest of the City Of Columbia."

Former Chief Carter said he plans to file a grievance over his termination with Gantt.

Carter had been under scrutiny from City Council over his handling of the investigation of Mayor-elect Steve Benjamin's car crash as well as officers' handling of an October arrest in Five Points where surveillance video apparently contradicts the incident report filed by three officers.

Council members were scheduled to meet at 1:30 p.m. Monday afternoon to discuss procedures. That meeting was cancelled and the council will take up the agenda item at their next meeting on Wednesday.

The city paid former S.L.E.D. Chief Robert Stewart's consulting firm $10,000 to help with the search to hire Carter.

Meanwhile, Columbia Police Colonel Carl Burke has been appointed as interim chief.

Burke introduced himself at a news conference Monday afternoon.

Burke, a Hopkins native and Eau Claire High School graduate, served in the Air Force before enlisting in the CPD in 1979. He has served the department since then.

"We have a committment to the citizens of Columbia to address crime to solve the problems and to make sure this is one of the more safer environments in the state of South Carolina," Burke said as he introduced himself at a news conference.

City Manager Steve Gantt issued a short statment, but did not return our phone call.

Mayor-Elect Steve Benjamin said he was out of town Monday and has not talked to Gantt or Carter and has little information on the firing.

Calling it a highly charged environment, Benjamin did not say much on the situation.

Let us instead rededicate ourselves to the cause of creating a city that thrives on open communication, honest collaboration, and a mutual respect. Only then, can we truly move forward together," Benjamin concluded.

Columbia's Urban League president says he doesn't know enough about the situation to comment either.

But J.T. McLawhorn says he is concerned about the high amount of turnover in the department.

"We are concerned that we've had changes in leadership over the past several years," McLawhorn states. "We think it's important for the city and law enforcement to get on one accord."

WACH FOX News and will bring you the very latest developments as they become available.

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