WILLIAMSTON, S.C. — The high-resolution image had been captured by a bank’s surveillance camera, and when Phillip Clardy saw it on the local news, it left no doubt in his mind: The big, bald bull of a man robbing the place — the man who had, strangely, not even bothered to wear a mask — was Richard Inman, the town’s former police chief.
Mr. Inman had been forced to resign as head of the Williamston Police Department in 2011 after Mr. Clardy, a former mayor, brought to light the racially provocative jokes that Mr. Inman had posted on his Facebook page. Mr. Inman turned in his badge with little drama or complaint. And that seemed to bring the story to a close.
But now here was Mr. Inman, six years later, captured on the surveillance camera at the Bank of America just up Highway 25 in Simpsonville, his expressionless face offering no clues about the gears churning behind it. The police accused Mr. Inman 48, of walking into the bank on the morning of June 24 in a pair of khaki shorts, giving the teller a note that stated he was armed and fleeing with an undisclosed amount of cash. Mr. Inman was arrested two and a half hours later in Franklin County, Ga. He remains in custody at the Greenville County Detention Center.
And so, this working-class town of 4,000 people was moved to ponder how, exactly, their former chief’s mug shot ended up in a $1.50 scandal sheet, The Jail Report, on sale at the Sav Way filling station.
Had Mr. Inman’s Facebook transgressions snared him in a professional purgatory from which he could not escape? Did all of this have something to do with the brain surgery Mr. Inman underwent while in office — the one some said had affected his personality? Was it something more complicated? Something less?
“It’s like he didn’t even care,” said Sydney Lawson, 26, an employee of a storefront cash-loan business, marveling that a former lawman would neglect to wear a mask to a bank heist.
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