COLUMBIA, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — It was exactly three years, four months, and one week ago that Marlboro County Sheriff’s deputies stuffed Jarrel Johnson into the back of a Marlboro County Sheriff’s Office patrol car and driven to the county jail.

Johnson was under arrest after his father, Ronnie, was beaten with a baseball bat. Deputies said Jarrel beat his father with the bat as his father and mother were headed to church that Sunday morning in May 2020.

Ronnie Johnson eventually recovered. In July 2020, the county grand jury indicted Jarrel Johnson on one count of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, the state’s lesser included offense of attempted murder.

This still frame captured from the May 3, 2020 body camera recording of Marlboro County Sheriff Deputy Andrew Cook shows Jarrel Johnson lying naked on the jailhouse floor as he’s shocked multiple times with a Tazer as Sheriff Charles Lemon orders Cook to “Pop it to him” throughout the encounter. (Source: Marlboro County Sheriff’s Office)

Not long after Deputy Andrew Cook got Johnson inside the jail, he pulled his taser and shocked Johnson multiple times. Cook had called for help on the way to the jail after he said Johnson became “unruly” in the patrol car.

Sheriff Charles Lemon showed up to lend Cook a hand. “The sheriff instructed me to have my taser in hand and ready for the subject [who] is known to be unruly and physical,” Cook wrote in his incident report. By the time Cook finished shocking Johnson, he was lying naked on the jailhouse floor with taser prongs stuck in his chest and stomach.

The following day, the Marlboro County Sheriff’s Office published a press release, claiming Johnson “assaulted” Marlboro County Sheriff Charles Lemon “as he was attempting to flee from his cell.”

“Sheriff Lemon is fine,” the press release stated.

Along with the assault charge on Ronnie Johnson, deputies also charged Jarrel Johnson for the alleged jailhouse attack on Lemon while resisting arrest. Deputies accused Johnson of pushing Lemon “in an attempt to get out of his cell,” former sheriff’s Lieutenant Trevor Murphy wrote in the May 3, 2020 arrest warrant.

Jarrel Johnson’s bond was denied in May 2020 after deputies charged him with beating his father with a baseball bat at their Bennettsville, SC home. (Source: Marlboro County Detention Center)

Marlboro County Chief Magistrate Judge Mia Weaver denied Jarrel Johnson’s bond during a May 4, 2020, bond hearing. Johnson’s spent the past three years in jail waiting for the Fourth Circuit Solicitor’s Office to bring his case to trial.

Johnson’s assault charge on his father is still pending, according to the state’s online court records database. Prosecutors dismissed Johnson’s assault charge on the sheriff on Dec. 15, 2021.

Murphy also wrote in the arrest warrant that body camera video of the incident existed. Neither Solicitor Will Rogers nor Deputy Solicitor Elizabeth Munnerlyn asked the sheriff’s office for the video recording, Murphy said.

Johnson’s case file stored in the Marlboro County courthouse also does not contain any record of the solicitor’s office requesting a copy of the body camera recording. Munnerlyn filed two subpoenas in the case, commanding both Cook and Lemon to appear at a June 28, 2021, court hearing in the case against Johnson. Munnerlyn’s subpoenas did not tell either the sheriff or the deputy to bring any of the video evidence with them to court.

The sheriff’s office would later lose that video evidence. A copy of the recording resurfaced in November 2021 during our ‘Lost Trust’ investigation – a news investigation that uncovered allegations of corruption involving the Marlboro County Sheriff’s Office.


Sometime between May 3, 2020, and Nov. 16, 2021, the body camera video showing what happened between Jarrel Johnson, Sheriff Charles Lemon, and Deputy Andrew Cook was deleted. The recording was created by Cook’s body camera and was stored on a laptop inside a breakroom at the sheriff’s office.

Without the video, what happened inside the jail that day would’ve been told through witness statements, which included Sheriff Lemon, Deputy Cook, Jarrel Johnson, and jailer Tajuana Samone Jacobs.

Suspended Marlboro County Sheriff Charles Lemon listens as Queen City News Chief Investigator Jody Barr questions him about the Dec. 14, 2021 indictments related to the May 2020 jailhouse tasing of Jarrel Johnson. (WJZY Photo/Jody Barr)

But following our ‘Final Disrespects’ investigative news series in November 2021, some of the lawmen closest to Sheriff Charles Lemon decided to provide inside information to Queen City News Chief Investigator Jody Barr. Our series detailed how the sheriff’s office failed to investigate allegations of theft from Hollis Slade’s home in January 2021.

Slade, who shared his Bennettsville home with his dementia-ridden wife, Joyce, died within days of complaints of stomach pains. Within hours of his death, Slade’s friends and hunting buddies showed up at his home. Multiple video cameras Slade installed around his home captured some of the people removing things from his home.

The recordings also showed Marlboro County Deputy Probate Judge Tammy Bullock going in and out of Slade’s home. In one recording, Bullock is shown on the back porch making a cell phone call admitting “We all taking turns rummaging through stuff” while “sitting with “Slade’s wife inside the home.”

Slade’s family told QCN the sheriff’s office never investigated their theft claims. We confirmed the family’s allegations during our ‘Final Disrespects’ investigation. The sheriff’s office turned the video evidence over to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division in July 2021, but SLED did not open an investigation into the case until August 31, 2021.

Sheriff Charles Lemon would never agree to an interview about his office’s handling of the Slade case. QCN had to track him down in an attempt to question him about why his office wouldn’t investigate the Slade case and the five-month delay in sending it to SLED.

Marlboro County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Trevor Murphy delivered SLED a packet titled ‘Lemon Laws’; a 76-page document Murphy said he and his investigators compiled on Sheriff Charles Lemon over the past two years. Murphy resigned Dec. 17, 2021 after going public with his allegations against the sheriff.

Days after our series aired, Lt. Murphy and a handful of other lawmen asked for a meeting. The men did not want to be identified but provided documents and statements corroborating what they believed were corrupt acts within the sheriff’s office. Some of their allegations included civil rights abuses and corruption committed by Lemon.

One piece of evidence the lawmen provided: a cell phone camera recording of the body camera video from the May 3, 2020, jailhouse tasing of Jarrel Johnson. The video recording showed Sheriff Charles Lemon berating an inmate, identified as Jarrel Johnson, who stood outside a cell door with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Here’s the transcript of the beginning of that video:

SHERIFF: “You got your taser? Is it hot?”

DEPUTY: “Yes, sir.”

SHERIFF: “It’s hot? (inaudible)…tase the hell out of him. Take the cuffs off of him. Step, step right here. Take the cuffs off of him. One of y’all take the cuffs off of him. When he turns around, stick that taser to his head. Ain’t nobody playing with you. It’s Sunday morning, man, I’ve got to go to church, you acting a fool. I know your whole family, I know you (inaudible) ain’t nobody (inaudible). If he turns around, pop it to him. Give him what he asked for.”


As soon as a jailer removed the handcuffs, Johnson lunged toward the sheriff. Deputy Andrew Cook hit Johnson with the stun gun part of his taser, which caused Johnson to fall back into a wall and slide to a sitting position on the floor.

Johnson was tased several more times, even as he appeared to make his way into the jail cell toward the end of the recording.

Lt. Trevor Murphy was at the jail when Johnson was booked in. Deputies arrested Johnson earlier that day after witnesses said Johnson beat his father with a baseball bat. Murphy thought a jail cell might not be what Johnson needed and left the jail to find Johnson’s mother to ask about his mental state.

“When asked simple questions like what his name was, he was giving answers that clearly showed you that his mental state was not healthy at that time, which is why I left the jail,” Murphy told QCN. “I told them he was calm and collected, just standby with him. Let me go speak with a family member of his and find out what his mental health history is, what we need to do to help him right now. We weren’t familiar with him. We hadn’t – never locked him up before. So, we need to know more about this guy before we just stick him in a jail cell.”

Before Murphy could get back to the jail, the sheriff walked into the jail to have a word with Johnson. The sheriff’s voice was captured on the body camera recording ordering Cook to “Pop it to him” multiple times throughout the two-minute video recording.

Johnson’s mother confirmed she met with Murphy that day concerning her son’s mental health.

“I’m going back to the jail, I got a phone call from a deputy who was employed at that time, who was in tears and wanting to meet with me at my office and he showed me a video from his body cam footage that was sickening, disturbing, and just outright; almost unbelievable what happened,” Murphy said.

Murphy had Cook complete a use of force report and Murphy said he turned that over to Lemon and his command staff.

Former Marlboro County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Cook was booked into the county jail a week after his and Sheriff Charles Lemon’s Dec. 14, 2021 indictments stemming from a jailhouse inmate tasing on May 3, 2020. (WJZY Photo/Jody Barr)

“It was clear that it was a bad taste and I told the sheriff that day that’s a bad taste; that’s wrong. It was blown off. Nothing was done about it. And I realized that they weren’t going to do anything about it so tried to go around and get the right eyes on it. We contacted ex-law enforcement – he was a current law enforcement officer at the time, but we contacted him through an anonymous number and we contacted two media sources through anonymous numbers, letting them know hey, there’s a man at the Marlboro County Detention Center that’s just been unlawfully tased you need to look into the situation. Sheriff Charles Lemon was present, there’s body cam footage,” Murphy said.

But neither the law enforcer nor the reporters responded, according to the group of law enforcers QCN met with on Nov. 16. The lack of response seemed to confirm what Murphy and his fellow officers feared most: the sheriff was untouchable.

“When you’ve reached out to people that are your out, are your way out, and you’re realizing we’re telling these people stuff that’s going on and they’re not responding, we have no help. There is no safety net. You’re taught in school, something happens, you tell the teacher. We tried to tell the teacher and we didn’t get the help we asked for.”


Our ‘Final Disrespects’ series first aired on Oct. 4, 2021. Over the next two months, QCN continued investigating allegations coming from within the sheriff’s office and allegations investigators attempted to tip law enforcement and the media off to what was happening in Marlboro County in the months before and after Jarrel Johnson’s tasing inside the jail.

On Nov. 23, 2021, Lt. Trevor Murphy decided to end the anonymous campaign to get someone within SLED to investigate the sheriff’s office.

Murphy agreed to be interviewed – on camera – in November 2021. Earlier that day Murphy was interviewed inside SLED’s Pee Dee Region Office about a packet he delivered to agents the week before.

Marlboro County Sheriff’s Lt. Trevor Murphy interviewed with FOX Charlotte Chief Investigator Jody Barr on Nov. 23, 2021 for our ‘Lost Trust’ investigation. That morning Murphy was interviewed by SLED agents inside the Pee Dee Region Office. Murphy and Sgt. Robbie Tryon submitted their resignations to the county that morning with their employment end dates set for Dec. 17, 2021.

That delivery to SLED included the cell phone video copy of Deputy Cook’s body camera recording.

Murphy’s interview was part of our investigative series titled ‘Lost Trust,’ detailing acts Murphy described as Sheriff Charles Lemon’s civil rights violations against citizens and Lemon’s efforts to interfere with investigations. At some point, SLED turned the jailhouse tasing video over to the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office.

On Dec. 14, 2021, the Marlboro County grand jury heard evidence from the AG’s office and handed up indictments against Lemon and Cook. Each was charged with one count of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature – a felony – and one count of misconduct in office.

Governor Henry McMaster signed an executive order suspending Sheriff Charles Lemon from office.

The day after the indictments, prosecutors dismissed the assault on a public servant charge against Jarrel Johnson. Johnson’s case file does not show any record of the dismissal or the reason prosecutors decided to drop that charge.

An unidentified South Carolina Law Enforcement Division agent opens a door of a state-owned truck for suspended Marlboro County Sheriff Charles Lemon after the sheriff was indicted on Dec. 14, 2021. Lemon was suspended immediately upon his indictment. (WJZY Photo/Jody Barr)

For the past 19 months, the AG’s office has held onto the criminal prosecution against Lemon and Cook without as much as a court date set for the men. Lemon filed a speedy trial motion in March seeking resolution in his case. The state constitution ensures the right to a speedy trial to protect people charged with crimes from “unnecessary or unreasonable delay.”

Now, four months after Lemon’s motion, his trial is set for September 5, 2023, in Marlboro County. The AG’s office does not have a trial date set for former Marlboro County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Cook.


Our dive into the Marlboro County Sheriff’s Office started in August 2021 after Hollis Slade’s family delivered more than 1,000 video clips to QCN Chief Investigative Reporter Jody Barr.

The clips contained recordings showing Slade’s final minutes before medics loaded him into an ambulance headed for a Cheraw hospital where he later died. The recordings also showed what happened outside his home in the hours following his death.

Hollis Slade’s security cameras captured video of a group Slade knew through his hound dog hobby arriving at his home on Jan. 23, 2021 – just hours after his death. The group is identified as: Will Adams (far left), Charlotte Green (black jacket/khaki pants), Ricky Gardner (middle), and Matthew Tomlinson (far right). Video and audio recordings showed the group going in and out of Slade’s home while his wife was inside.

Those recordings also showed a fireman waiting with Slade’s wife, Joyce, as the ambulance drove away from the home. Joyce, stricken with severe dementia, couldn’t be left alone.

Slade’s surveillance video showed the first to arrive was Matthew Tomlinson, a young man Slade mentored and who helped with Slade’s hunting hounds.

Tomlinson’s mother Charlotte Green, her boyfriend Ricky Gardner, and a man named Will Adams, who had worked with Slade at the paper mill in town, all drove up together in Gardner’s truck. Adams spent most of his time in the yard, in view of the cameras, placing calls to attorneys and at least one coroner.

In one clip, Adams tells Green and Tomlinson he might have a way to unlock Slade’s cell phone, “My Verizon guy, he’s probably about to call me to see if we can get into his phone.” The recordings do not show why the group wanted to get into Slade’s phone or whether the group was able to unlock it.

The recordings make apparent the group knew Slade’s wife was not able to be left alone and that she could not handle the estate alone. “We broke the news to her, but she has to have a caretaker 24/7,” Adams told Bennettsville attorney Jason Luck in a call with him.

Marlboro County Deputy Probate Judge Tammy Bullock walks into Hollis Slade’s home on Jan. 24, 2021 the day following his death. Bullock told someone in a phone call recorded on Slade’s back porch that she and the others spent the day “rummaging” through Slade’s home in search of a will.

Despite contacting Slade’s mother by phone, the group continued looking for a document showing how Slade wanted his property distributed, “I just don’t know if he ever finalized the s—t,” Adams said as the group stood in Slade’s driveway. “Maybe he didn’t,” Gardner responded.

The video recordings also showed Gardner and Adams going rummaging through Slade’s pickup truck. The video doesn’t show whether anything was removed from the truck.

The recordings later show the group standing by Slade’s truck discussing property that belonged to the man, “It’s kind of like, he got $2,000 worth of tracking collars sitting in there,” Gardner tells the group.

“What about all the money in the bank,” Green asks. “I hate to leave $2,000 worth of tracking collars and two Garmin’s sitting there,” Gardner said referring to the dozens of tracking collars Slade had hanging on a rack inside his front door.

Video recordings captured the next day showed Gardner carrying a large plastic container out the front door; the same door where Slade had the rack. Slade had a document on his computer showing an accounting for 43 collars. The document shows 12 collars belonged to Gardner.

The document is undated.

Surveillance camera video from outside Hollis Slade’s Marlboro County home shows Ricky Gardner carrying a plastic container from the home and loading it into his truck. Slade died the day before and his wife, who suffers from severe dementia, was inside the home at the time. (Source: Hollis Slade Estate)

In one of the videos, Gardner had a Garmin tracking collar package in one hand. It’s the same tracking collar the Slade family would later accuse the group of stealing from the Slade home. Several other videos depict Gardner walking out of the house with property and loading it into his truck.

This all happened while Hollis Slade’s sister was on her way from Indiana to her brother’s Marlboro County home. “It’s Hollis’ sister, but they’re on the way. They supposed to be here this evening, 7, 8 o’clock or something,” the recordings capture Gardner telling a woman on the phone.

Gardner said he and the others were “sitting with Mrs. Joyce,” and “cleaning up.” Gardner also mentioned in the recordings he was collecting items to take care of Slade’s hound dogs.

Soon after the caretaker left that morning and Gardner loaded his truck, the recordings show the next person to arrive at the Slade home was a woman named Tammy Bullock. Bullock once worked with Hollis Slade at the paper mill in town.

When she showed up at his home on Jan. 24, 2021, she was the appointed deputy probate judge in the Marlboro County Probate Judge’s Office.

Marlboro County Deputy Probate Judge Tammy Bullock posted his picture to her Facebook account on March 15. Bullock said she was “surprised” with the swearing in ceremony by Judge Mark Heath, Marlboro County’s elected probate judge. (Source: Facebook)

But Bullock did not hold an oath of office when she was at Slade’s home in January 2021.

With Bullock at the home, Gardner and others continued carrying property out of the house and loading it into his truck. The recordings show Tammy Bullock’s Cadillac parked in front of the house that morning and it was still there when Slade’s family arrived that night.

The two video cameras Hollis installed inside his home never activated during these recordings. Slade’s family confirmed the cameras were operational but could not explain why Slade’s recording system failed to capture video and audio from inside during the time the group was there.

The outside cameras, however, recorded conversations that indicated what was happening inside: the group was searching for Slade’s will. In an abbreviated recording, Bullock is on the phone standing in Slade’s driveway when she said, “His will. Because we don’t know his sister…”

The recording did not capture the beginning or end of the call.

“We all taking turns rummaging through stuff and sitting with her (Joyce) and trying to make her (Joyce) eat,” Bullock told someone in a phone call captured on the security camera recordings. Bullock also acknowledged in the call that Slade’s sister, Beth Slade-Boling, was on the way to the home.

Bullock was also depicted in the video recordings going through Slade’s truck with one video showing Bullock handing Green what appeared to be a checkbook.

None of the people named in this report would agree to an interview and none have been charged with any crime related to the allegations detailed in this report. The only response we received from any of the group came from Ricky Gardner who referred QCN to his attorney, James Cox, to schedule the interview.

Cox never returned QCN’s message. 

The conversation that day eventually turned to Slade’s debts and how that would be paid for and then turned back to Gardner’s concerns about Slade’s property, “I swear I hate to leave all this,” Gardner said as the group stood in the garage door. “It’s going to be sad if somebody else comes–” Green said before Gardner interrupted, “His f—ing brother get—know he didn’t want him to have it. I know he didn’t want him to have it, I heard him say it.”

Hollis Slade’s security cameras captured recordings of Marlboro County Deputy Probate Judge Tammy Bullock and Charlotte Green searching Slade’s truck on Jan. 24, 2021, they day after Slade died. Green later joked that she and Bullock took four packs of cigarettes out of the truck because, “We figured he didn’t need them no more,” Green said in the recordings. (Source: Hollis Slade Estate.)

The group left the Slade home for the night as Joyce Slade’s caretaker agreed to stay the night with her. When the sun rose the next morning in Marlboro County, Hollis Slade’s cameras would capture 432 more video clips that led the Slade family to file a criminal complaint with the Marlboro County Sheriff’s Office. 

The sheriff’s office never opened an investigation and didn’t turn the case over to SLED until July 2021 – nearly half a year after Slade’s family turned to Lemon for help. SLED initially refused to investigate.

When we asked SLED for a status update on the investigation in late August 2021, the agency said agents had “conducted a preliminary inquiry,” but “determined this to be a civil matter and therefore we did not open an official criminal investigation,” SLED spokesman Tommy Crosby wrote in a Sept. 21, 2021 email to Barr.

“If at any point credible evidence is brought forward showing possible criminal violations, we will evaluate and consider reopening the inquiry,” Crosby wrote.

But SLED wasn’t telling the truth. The agency had opened a criminal investigation into the Slade estate a month earlier. SLED described a “miscommunication” that led its communications head to tell QCN it hadn’t opened a criminal investigation when the agency actually had.

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It took SLED 11 months to finish its work on the Slade case before turning its investigative packet over to the SC Attorney General’s Office for prosecutorial review on June 10, 2022.

QCN has checked in with the AG’s office each month since to find out whether the AG’s office plans to file charges.

“There are no updates” on the Slade investigation or whether Assistant Attorney General Joel Kozak plans to file charges, AG spokesman Robert Kittle wrote in a June 30 email to Barr.