News Video: Investigation Underway After Upstate Man’s Homicide in Law Enforcement Custody

SUNSET, SC – The Pickens County Coroner’s Office said the death of an Easley man in law enforcement custody in May has been ruled a homicide.

The coroner said 42-year-old Randall Dale Scruggs was pronounced dead at Cannon Memorial Hospital just after 4 p.m. on May 28.

The Scruggs family said they were coping and trying to move on when they got a call in August that changed everything.

“I can still see him all over the place,” said his sister, Kristy Sutherland. “I miss him very much.”

Scruggs suffered asphyxia from aspiration of gastric contents from thoracic/abdominal compression while in custody, the coroner said. His death was ruled a homicide.

The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office said they were called to a disturbance on Highway 11 where they found Scruggs lying face down in brush on the side of the road. Deputies said Scruggs was riding in a vehicle with a relative when he became “out of control.” The family member told deputies he was behaving irrationally and making statements that indicated he thought people were trying to hurt him.

“He was her baby,” Sutherland said. “I mean she watched her son die, right in front of her.”

Deputies said the driver was afraid he would try to jump from the car and he did run into traffic.

Deputies arrived on scene and said they attempted to calm Scruggs but he repeatedly got up and tried to run from deputies. He was handcuffed during the incident “for his protection in the desire to prevent him from running into traffic an additional time,” according to the sheriff’s office.

Deputies said when an ambulance arrived, Scruggs told EMS he had been taking methamphetamine and began vomiting before losing consciousness.

He was transported to Cannon Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Sutherland said she will remember her brother as being a kind-hearted Christian man, but she said he did struggle with drugs off and on.

“He had a lot of demons but he was working toward getting right,” Sutherland said.

Despite the addiction, Sutherland said Scruggs was a lovable guy, her teddy bear big brother.

“He would get in the car and just any music playing he would beat on the dash,” Sutherland said.

She said anyone who knew him could tell he loved his family, especially his son Joshua, who is now 11.

“His son loved him too,” Sutherland said. “And he loved his wife Gina, and Gina loved him.”

The Sheriff’s Office said the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has been asked to conduct an independent investigation of the incident.

“I’m sure it was an accident,” Sutherland said. “But somebody needs to be held accountable. Definitely, because he didn’t deserve it.”

Sheriff Rick Clark released the following statement on the incident:

“After receiving the information contained within the documents that have been provided to me today, I am confident that there is a lot of information that has not been released and perhaps cannot be released due to HIPPA and privacy concerns.

Our deputies were confronted with an irrational adult male that was a danger to himself and not in his right state of mind due to the influence of methamphetamine based on his own statements at the scene.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and I want them to know that I will take every measure to be absolutely sure that our agency’s involvement in this tragic incident was appropriate.

From what I have seen based on witness statements and forensic reports, I do not have any immediate concerns in the actions that were taken by the deputies as they dealt with Mr. Scruggs’ in the delusional state of mind that he was in.”


FOX Carolina 21