W. WALTER WILKINS
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
1441 Main Street, Suite 500 * Columbia, SC 29201 * (803) 929-3000*
June 10, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT PERSON: KEVIN F. MCDONALD
TROOPER INDICTED ON FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney W. Walter Wilkins and
Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights
Division in Washington, D.C., stated today that a federal grand jury in Greenville,
South Carolina, issued an indictment today charging South Carolina Highway
Patrolman Steve C. Garren, age 39, of Greenwood, with a federal civil rights violation.
The indictment alleges that on June 24, 2007, Garren struck a man with his
patrol vehicle resulting in bodily injury to the man. The indictment further alleges that
Garren’s actions willfully deprived the man of his constitutional right to be free from the
use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer.
Mr. Wilkins stated, “Allegations of law enforcement abuse are serious, and must
be considered carefully. I am confident the grand jury has done just that in issuing this
The charge follows an investigation by federal and state authorities after a video
of the alleged incident was shown by television and internet media outlets earlier this
Mr. Wilkins stated, “The joint investigation into the conduct of certain members of
the South Carolina Highway Patrol is ongoing, and I anticipate additional presentations
to the federal grand jury. Our office will continue to work with the FBI, SLED, and the
Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice to identify those cases that are
appropriate for federal prosecution.”
Mr. Wilkins further stated, “I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the
cooperation of the South Carolina Highway Patrol in this joint investigation. I also want
to make clear that the overwhelming majority of troopers serve the citizens of this state
with honor and distinction everyday. It’s important that this investigation continue, not
only for the public’s confidence, but for their benefit as well.”
Mr. Wilkins stated the maximum penalty Garren could receive is a fine of
$250,000.00 and imprisonment for ten years.
The case was investigated by special agents of the South Carolina Law
Enforcement Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being
prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Alston C. Badger and Civil Rights
Division Deputy Chief Brent Alan Gray.
The United States Attorney stated that all charges in this Indictment are
merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and
unless proven guilty.