Clark: Deputy fired after using Taser on man

Officer used weapon on man in wheelchair, sheriff says

By Greg Oliver
Courtesy The Journal


PICKENS — Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark announced Friday he had fired a deputy who 3-4 Page 1A.inddused a Taser on a man in a wheelchair.

Clark said he terminated deputy Steven A. Ticknor after determining the second of two Tasers used in an incident last month should not have been used.

“It is unfortunate and disappointing that one of our deputies chose to use a level of force that was not necessary and found to be unreasonable,” Clark said. “It is my hope that our community will see that we conduct our internal reviews seriously and with the utmost scrutiny for detail and policy compliance.”

According to Pickens County chief deputy Creed Hashe, deputies from the sheriff’s office were asked to assist the Pickens Police Department in the service of three outstanding arrest warrants for 25-year-old Travis Antonio Mansell on Feb. 20. The bench warrants stemmed from previous criminal charges filed against Mansell by police for possession of stolen goods, resisting arrest and driving under suspension.

Three deputies, accompanied by a Pickens officer, responded to Lee Street, where Mansell was observed through a window hiding inside the residence as officers attempted to get someone to answer the door. A female, who identified herself as Mansell’s girlfriend, answered the door and told deputies Mansell was not inside the residence.

With arrest warrants in hand, deputies saw Mansell inside the residence and decided to enter through the open door and engage in conversation with him. According to a news release, Mansell told deputies he would not go back to jail and they “would have to kill him.”

The sheriff’s office requested additional units as deputies verbally attempted to persuade Mansell to surrender without further incident. Mansell’s father, Parker Mansell Jr., 65, was also inside the home and seated in a motorized wheelchair due to health complications. According to the release, the father attempted to position himself while seated in the wheelchair between the deputies and his son “with the intent to block or impede the deputies from gaining access to his son.”

After 15 to 20 minutes of dialogue proved unsuccessful, the release said deputies used a less-lethal Taser device “to momentarily incapacitate” Travis Mansell. That allowed deputies to approach and restrain him without use of additional force, with no injuries sustained by either party.

However, following the use of the Taser on Mansell, a backup deputy elected to use the device on the wheelchair-bound father, the release said. The deputy said he felt the need to deploy the Taser on the father to prevent the father from injuring the deputies who were physically arresting his son.

Clark initiated an internal investigation and review into the deployment of the two Tasers the following morning. The sheriff determined the weapon’s usage against Travis Mansell to be “appropriate and reasonable” due to “the number of officers on the scene, the overt resistance from the son (and) verbal threats to force officers to take his life, coupled with extensive efforts by the deputies to diffuse the encounter without the use of force.”

But the sheriff said the second deployment of the Taser was “inappropriate” since the father was “confined to a wheelchair and was limited in mobility.” Though acknowledging that the father was verbally upset, Clark said he “posed no significant danger to the deputies, as he was unarmed and made no overt threats.”

The sheriff said that just as officers in the right “must not hesitate to protect the innocent by using whatever force a suspect forces us to use when an arrest is warranted, such as in the case of Travis Mansell,” they must be held accountable “when officers make a less than reasonable decision concerning the use of force as in the case of Parker Mansell Jr.”

“It was a poor decision that ultimately cost the deputy his job,” Clark said.

Travis Mansell was placed in the Pickens County Detention Center following his arrest on cash and surety bonds totaling nearly $7,700. The sheriff’s office said Friday afternoon Clark has been in contact with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and has requested an external review of the incident involving use of the Taser.

The sheriff’s office added all documentation and evidence in the case will be turned over to SLED on Monday and, therefore, no additional comments will be made pending the outcome of the investigation.