Update: The last paragraph has been updated to reflect that the person who Anderson says told her the deputy ran a license plate check on her is unknown because of the redaction.
A Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office deputy resigned in late April after two Hilton Head Island residents accused him of inappropriate behavior, according to documents obtained by The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette.
On April 27, Chris O’Nan and Karen Anderson went to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office and filed citizen complaints against Staff Sgt. DeJuan R. Holmes, including accusations that he used his police vehicle and equipment to facilitate “an adulterous relationship” and abused his position by running a license plate check on an individual without cause, the documents show.
When confronted two days later with the allegations, Holmes “immediately submitted his resignation and declined to be interviewed,” according to the report authored by Special Investigator Lt. Brian Baird’s report and dated May 4.
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A third complaint was signed by attorney Lauren Martel, who was representing O’Nan at the time but told the investigator she had no direct knowledge of the allegations. The three met with Sheriff P.J. Tanner, who then ordered an internal inquiry into Holmes’ conduct.
But Holmes’ resignation ended the inquiry, according to the report.
Tanner said that is typical when a deputy is accused of policy infractions that do not rise to the level of criminal activity. If Holmes had not resigned, the investigation would have continued and included a polygraph test and checks by investigators to see if there was evidence that supported the citizens’ accusations, Tanner said.
The report does say that the history of Holmes’ work phone was searched before it was disconnected and that the phone number of the person alleged to be having the relationship in question was not found.
Efforts by the newspapers to reach Holmes were unsuccessful. He worked as an investigator for the Sheriff’s Office since 2002, most recently handling drug, gang and other vice-type cases, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He was also one of its two alcohol enforcement officers, working with the state to check for illegal sales of alcoholic beverages.
In his resignation letter, which was included in the report, Holmes does not address the accusations.
“I wish to thank you for the opportunity to serve at the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office and the citizens of Beaufort County,” he wrote. “The experience (I gained) has been immeasurable. ... I wish to utilize the experience to further my career.”
A copy of the internal affairs investigation was obtained by the newspapers on June 8 — but only after a judge ruled that the newspapers had a right to the portions of the report that related to Holmes.
Neither the Sheriff’s Office nor Beaufort County, which funds the police agency, sought secrecy. But an unnamed third party, referred to as John Doe, attempted to block the release of the report in a court filing.
Beaufort County Special Circuit Court Judge Marvin Dukes ruled in favor of the newspapers but ordered the report be heavily redacted. As a result, three complete pages of the report were not released, and all references to the person with whom Holmes is accused of having a relationship were redacted.
The accusations include that Holmes is alleged to have been seen entering the unnamed person’s place of employment “after midnight, where they would stay for over an hour at times.” That work location also is redacted.
The newspapers are fighting the decision to redact the documents.
Left mostly unredacted is a claim by Anderson that Holmes checked her license plate without cause. Anderson claims she drove near Holmes’ house, at O’Nan’s request, and when Holmes drove up, he spotted her car and followed her briefly. She says she was told Holmes ran a plate check on her by someone whose name is also redacted from the report.