David Lauderdale

Lauderdale: Beaufort County cops caught - doing the right thing

Beaufort County Sheriff's deputies caught doing the right thing, from left,  are Cpl. Christopher Briggs, Pfc. Craig Garcia, Cpl. Craig Karafa and Sgt. Daniel Mooney.
Beaufort County Sheriff's deputies caught doing the right thing, from left, are Cpl. Christopher Briggs, Pfc. Craig Garcia, Cpl. Craig Karafa and Sgt. Daniel Mooney. Special to The Beaufort Gazette

Beaufort County sheriff's deputies were called to a Lady's Island grocery store Monday night to deal with a trespasser.

What happened next is inspiring.

William Giles of Simpsonville was dashing into the Food Lion to get some bottled water on the way to his home away from home on Fripp Island.

It was almost 10 p.m. and he was in a hurry. But he paused in the parking lot when he saw three Beaufort County Sheriff's Office patrol cars, and three officers at the entrance.

They surrounded a man Giles described as kind of frail, probably in his 50s or 60s. He was African American. To Giles, he had the edgy look of someone who has seen his share of the gutters along life's highway. He looked like someone who was homeless.

Giles said he didn't want to interfere or inject himself into their business. But he listened.

That's when he witnessed "the first sign of Thanksgiving and Christmas kindness."

He heard an officer ask the man, "Are you hungry?"

"Did you eat today?"

"Are you thirsty?"

He watched them give the man water, food and a hand.

"The officers responding, instead of escalating the situation, the deputies reached into their own pocket to help their frail hungry elder," Giles wrote in a letter to the newspaper.

He felt that telling the public about what he saw is the only way he could say "thanks."

As Giles returned to his car with his things in the buggy, he tapped on the window of a patrol car. Cpl. Christopher Briggs appeared to be writing his report on another routine incident on the night shift. By then, his colleagues, Sgt. Daniel Mooney and Cpl. Craig Karafa, were back on the road.

Briggs rolled down the window and Giles thanked him. Then he offered him his case of water, but the officer told him policy prevented him from accepting it. Giles said he offered him money to replace what he'd just spent on the so-called trespasser. No, he couldn't take it.

"It's what you want in a police officer," Giles told me, "but it's not what you see reported today."

He said it was ironic that "some bean-counter" prevented him from responding to the deputies with the common-sense kindness he'd just seen them show to a man in a parking lot looking, hoping for someone's kindness.

"Doing the right thing is the most important thing you can do, if you think about it," Giles said. "Often we do what is most expedient."

There was no promotion, no photo-op, no media, no smartphone video to go viral.

"Here he is doing the right thing," Giles said. "They do that every day and nobody ever says anything about it."

Follow columnist and senior editor David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale and facebook.com/david.lauderdale.16.

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