Town councilman's removal from meeting turns physical - KCTV5 News

Town councilman's removal from meeting turns physical

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When politics in a small South Carolina town reached a boiling point over who had control over procedure at a recent council meeting, the town's police chief, some of his officers and one councilman became involved in a confrontation that turned physical and ended with the elected official on the ground complaining about back pain.

Batesburg-Leesville district three councilman Steve Cain warned Chief W. Wallace Oswald that he would sue if he was removed from the March 10 meeting. As it turned out, it may have been a foreshadowing to what was to come. 

Cain's disagreement with Mayor Rita Crapps started when she and council member Kathy Mingo engaged in an argument after Crapps told those in attendance there was no more time for public comment.

Mingo: "You are out of order."

Crapps: "No, ma'am I'm not."

Mingo: "You are out of order"

Crapps: "No, ma'am I'm not."

Mingo: "You're disrespecting the process"

Crapps as she bangs the gavel: "Ms. Mingo."

Cain then interjects.

Cain: "I'm addressing you, though. You be quiet"

Crapps: "Mr. Cain, I need you to come to order."

Cain: "I need you to come to order."

Cain's comments cause Crapps to ask Oswald to escort Cain from the meeting. "Chief, would you please remove Mr. Cain from these proceedings," said Crapps. "I've had enough. I have absolutely had enough."

Cain: "You don't have the authority to remove somebody from the meeting."

Crapps: "Yes sir, I do."

Cain: "No you don't."

Crapps: "Chief please remove him."

Cain: "No, I'm not. No. She cannot remove somebody from a meeting for speaking."

Chief Oswald: "She can remove anyone from the meeting."

Cain: "No, she cannot. Show me the law that says that she can remove somebody. Where does it say that?"

Cain: "No, I'm not leaving."

Chief Oswald: "Let's go."

Cain: "I'm not leaving until you show me where it's written at. In our rule book or our ordinance. What are you charging me with?"

Chief Oswald: "I'm not charging you with anything."

Cain: "OK, then I'm not leaving. You need to charge me with something."

Chief Oswald: "That's not so. Anybody that's over a meeting can have anybody removed."

Cain:  "Where does it say that?"

Crapps: "Robert's Rules of Order."

At that point, Cain tells the chief he will have to arrest him. Oswald says he's not going to put Cain under arrest. That's when Oswald and another officer pull Cain's seat out.

The councilman jumps up and says "Don't touch me."

Cain (pointing at the crowd): "This is [an] outrage," says Cain pointing at the crowd of citizens. "Y'all citizens ought to be outraged by this. You ought to be outraged by this. This lady right here sits here and belittles our citizens and a council member, two elected council members."

"Mr. Cain, you are removed," Crapps interjects.

"And chief, if you remove me, I will sue you all," says Cain. "Do not touch me. 'Cause she [Crapps] don't want to hear what other people have to say."

Cain then starts to pass out printed emails to attendees.

"I'm leaving chief," said Cain "But, I'm gonna pass out ... 'Cause I was on the agenda. But I will pass out an email where Rita Crapps... Where, uh Rita Crapps... She don't want you all to see the email."

Oswald then pushes Cain twice in the chest, moving him away from the crowd.

Oswald: "Let's go. Let's go"
Cain: "Don't touch me, chief."

As Oswald moves Cain backwards, two other officers appear to grab Cain's arms. For an unknown reason, Cain then falls to the ground and complains that he is injured.

"Oh, my back," said Cain. "My back. My back."

At that point, the video provided to WIS cuts off, but one citizen who was there explained what happened next. "They dragged him out by his two arms like a dog," said Pansy Buzhardt. "Women in the crowd were crying."

Buzhardt says Cain saw a doctor about his back Tuesday. It is unclear what the extent of his injuries might be.

Cain is no stranger to controversy. In 2010, then-mayor Jim Wiszowaty had Cain removed from a meeting for asking too many questions. The situation quickly got worse when Cain accused Wiszowaty of doing cocaine.

In 2013, Cain did two stints in jail for failing to pay child support.

On Saturday, Mayor Rita Crapps sent WIS the following statement.

Our meetings will be run and held with order and respect. Monday's nights event are a portrayal of a lack of order and a deplorable lack of respect for attendees and fellow council members. I have may it very clear from the day I took office that our meetings were not going to become circus side shows. What youu see in the video is the second time in the meeting Mr. Cain would not come to order. He left me with no alternative but to excuse him.

According to the town's Rules of Procedure and Ordinances, town council is to follow Robert's Rules of Order for meeting procedures. The mayor presides over the meetings and council members who want to speak should address the mayor before speaking, according to the town's policy.

Batesburg-Leesville has a population of just under 5,400, according to the 2010 census.

Copyright 2014 WIS. All rights reserved.

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