CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — Two years after a man was shot by a Charleston County Sheriff's deputy during a home invasion call, the man's family is suing for 25 million dollars claiming gross negligence, battery, assault, and violating his civil rights.
The suit also claims civil conspiracy saying that CCSO officials misled the public through inaccurate statements made to the media.
The lawsuit says that then-26-year-old Bryant Heyward was left a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down, after CCSO Deputy Tyner shot him in the neck.
Attorneys say Heyward has since developed diabetes, suffered from sacral ulcers, and owes more than a million dollars in medical expenses.
Back in May 2015, CCSO deputies responded to Heyward's home after he said two armed men tried to break in. He told 911 operators he exchanged fire with the suspects before locking himself in his laundry room.
Another witness, identified by the lawsuit as Heyward's grandmother, told 911 operators she saw two black men ride away from the scene on bicycles.
According to the suit, a dispatcher told Heyward to get someplace safe and stay there but they also claim the dispatcher on the phone was not trained to communicate properly and the department has been understaffed for years.
When deputies arrived, they said Heyward came out and refused to drop his gun so one of them fired.
Sheriff's officials identified the deputies involved as Deputy Richard Powell and Deputy Keith Tyner.
The lawsuit claims that Deputy Tyner entered the home, "immediately sees" Heyward, and "within one second of first sight" shot him "while simultaneously yelling 'show me your hands.'"
The lawsuit says that Heyward was still on the phone with 911 and cried out "Wrong guy, sir. Wrong guy, sir. This is my house."
The lawsuit claims deputies Tyner and Powell "dragged" Heyward out of the laundry room despite his "traumatic spinal cord injury" from the gunshot.
CCSO officials said it took about 15 minutes for them to realize they had shot the wrong person.
The lawsuit also claims that in the ambulance ride to the hospital, a CCSO detective rode along to interview Heyward "under the guise of investigating the home burglary and attempting to secure a potential 'dying declaration.'"
"Detective Sharp's audio recorded interview of Plaintiff (Heyward), taken immediately after Plaintiff had been traumatically shot in the neck, had been recklessly pulled out of the home with a spinal cord injury, and had been rendered a quadriplegic, would be released to the public the following day by defendant CCSO as Plaintiff remained in the hospital in the Intensive Care Unit, on a respirator, and dying from his injuries," the suit reads.
Lawyers for Heyward claim CCSO tried to "create the purported perception" that Heyward had time to process the deputy's demands and should have dropped the gun when in actuality they say a body mic recording proves deputies "never once ordered Plaintiff to drop his weapon or mentioned a weapon at all."
Heyward's attorney claims that all statements made by CCSO officials after the shooting were false and portrayed his client as being at fault for causing the deputy's reaction.
Another claim in the suit alleges that Deputy Tyner lied on his report, saying Heyward came out pointing a gun resulting in the shooting and then said Heyward went back inside and closed the door. The suit says Tyner claims they pushed the back door open and found Heyward lying on the floor.
We are reaching out to Heyward's attorney as well as CCSO officials and will update this story as more information becomes available.