Charges dropped in controversial Five Points case

Myrtle Beach Attorney Jonathan McCoy

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Prosecutors have dropped criminal charges against Myrtle Beach attorney Jonathan McCoy after the three Columbia police officers who arrested him outside a Five Points bar last October refused to testify, according to McCoy's attorney Robert Goings.

Police spokesman Brick Lewis confirmed the charges against McCoy have been dropped Friday, but he said it was because one officer is now deployed to Iraq and is unavailable to testify.

McCoy's trial for "interfering with police" was scheduled to start Monday, but Goings said prosecutors dropped the case Thursday after learning the arresting officers would invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

City Manager Steve Gantt was unavailable for comment Friday as to Goings' claims and whether the officers face disciplinary action. An assistant in Gantt's office said he was out of the office Friday afternoon. Assistant City Manager Mike King was also out of the office and unavailable for comment.

McCoy alleges Columbia police officers John K. Passmore, James Heywood and Amanda H. Long violated his Constitutional rights when he was arrested outside Red Hot Tomatoes on Harden Street the night of October 16. McCoy also accuses the officers of lying in their written account of the incident.

According to the incident report filed by officers, McCoy "grabbed an officer by the arm" after he saw officers attempting to arrest another man. The report further states McCoy then "continued to intervene by getting in [responding officer's]) face."

Surveillance video of the two-minute incident seen First on Fox appears to contradict the officers' written account.

In the video, McCoy can be seen approaching the officers but does not grab them. Two officers are seen shoving McCoy, after which he backs away from the officers. According to the lawsuit, McCoy claims that, as an attorney, he was trying to advise a friend to remain silent as well as to ask the officer why he was being arrested.

McCoy has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and officers Passmore, Heywood and Long for allegedly violating his Constitutional rights. The 15-page lawsuit requests unspecified monetary damages and seeks to have the city's "interfering with police" ordinance declared Unconstitutional.

Arrest data released after a Freedom of Information Act request by WACH Fox News shows 115 people were arrested last year near Five Points on the charge of interfering with police. That represents nearly ten percent of all arrests made in the area.