School resource officer at Lamar High accused of misconduct, assaulting student

William Kenneth Sumner. PHOTO COURTESY OF DCDC

By Bobby Bryant, Editor

editor@newsandpress.net

A school resource officer at Lamar High School, who once said he considered himself a “friend” to all the students he worked with, was arrested April 20 and charged with assaulting a student, according to jail records and the State Law Enforcement Division. William Kenneth Sumner, 57, is charged with misconduct in office by a public official and third-degree assault and battery, jail records show. His bond on each offense was set at $2,500. He posted bond and was released about an hour after being booked, jail records say. SLED says that the 6-foot-8 Sumner grabbed a Lamar High student April 16 during a verbal altercation. The arrest warrant, provided by SLED, says: “SRO Sumner did assault a juvenile student (name redacted) by grabbing him by his clothing and lifting him from a chair in an office at the school. SRO Sumner then shoved (name redacted) along a wall while still gripping him by his clothing. This incident was captured by the surveillance cameras at the school.” Since Sumner was a deputy with the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office, the DCSO asked SLED to handle the case, according to SLED’s statement. The statement refers to Sumner as a “former” law enforcement officer; the DCSO has dismissed him. The Darlington County School District said in a statement: “We are aware of an incident that occurred between a student and a School Resource Officer at a Lamar school on Friday afternoon. School Resource Officers in Lamar are employees of the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office. The Darlington County School District is cooperating fully with law enforcement in their investigation.” Scores of people quickly posted comments on the News & Press’ Facebook page, defending Sumner – known as “Big House” to friends – praising his character and his dedication to looking out for students as a long-serving school resource officer. Many praised his work as a school resource officer at Darlington High School. Some described him as a “gentle giant.” Many of the people posting comments said the student must have been out of control, but no law-enforcement officials have yet touched on the student’s behavior before the incident. No one has revealed exactly what led up to the incident, what “office” the student was in or why he was there. Within five or six hours after news broke of Sumner’s arrest, the News & Press’ Facebook page had received roughly 200 comments about Sumner, the vast majority of them defending him. Within a day, more than 400 people posted comments. Apparently before he joined the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office, Sumner created a profile of himself for the website LinkedIn. The profile is not dated, but was written at a time when he was working for the Darlington Police Department as a school resource officer at Darlington High School. Sumner wrote in his profile: “My number (one) job is the protection and safety of every student and faculty (member) and administrators here at the school. I also go into classes and teach things like government, peer (mediation), drugs and alcohol and also on gangs. I am a police officer, counselor, but the most important thing is I am their friend. I love my job here and would not trade it for anything.” He added: “God gave me a calling and that calling was to go and work as a(n) SRO. … If I can retire as a(n) SRO, then I would have fulfilled my police career.”

Author: Rachel Howell

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