Hardeeville's former police chief said the S.C. Law Enforcement Division is investigating whether Councilman Sal Arzillo retaliated against him for his handling of an alleged dispute between Arzillo and a police officer late last year.
SLED began investigating the dispute Nov. 10, and it soon broadened to include possible retaliation by Arzillo, then-Chief Richard Nagy said Sunday. Nagy said Arzillo might have been upset with him for turning the case over to SLED.
Arzillo interrupted Hardeeville police as they responded to an alleged liquor-law violation Nov. 10 at a Citgo gas station on Whyte Hardee Boulevard. Arzillo has said he was called to the station by several people, including the store's owner. Part of the exchange between Arzillo and officer A.J. Williams was captured on video.
Arzillo has said he simply had a discussion with police about what they were doing at the store.
Nagy, who resigned Feb. 24 after seven years as chief, said he turned over investigation of the incident to SLED to ensure it is thorough and unbiased. The inquiry initially was limited to allegations that Arzillo interfered with a police operation and that Williams used unnecessary force by placing his hand on the councilman, Nagy added.
"I think in the end, people will have their answers," Nagy said.
Nagy declined to comment on his resignation. He said he left the department for professional reasons he cannot discuss because of SLED's ongoing investigation.
SLED spokesman Thom Berry declined to comment, citing the open case.
Reached Tuesday, Arzillo confirmed that SLED looked into allegations he retaliated against the chief. However, he denied doing so.
"I can't retaliate against the chief," Arzillo said, noting only the city manager can fire a police chief. "That would be an impossibility."
Nagy said he is pursuing other job opportunities. Jasper County Sheriff's Office Deputy Sam Woodward was appointed Friday as the city's interim chief, according to city manager Rose Dobson-Elliott.
Dobson-Elliott, a former Bamberg County administrator, began serving as interim city manager Monday following Bob Nanni's resignation Feb. 6. Nanni was the city's fifth city manager since 2008.
Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.