Anyone who has lived in South Carolina long enough has seen the power of corrupt police and prosecutors. Now there is a new book that lays out what author J.B. "Jim" Simms considers a classic case of police and prosecutors colluding to convict an innocent man -- or in this case, an innocent woman.
Don't Get Arrested in South Carolina -- A Lesson of Fraud, Deceit, and Corruption in South Carolina Law Enforcement and Prosecution opens with the death of Dr. Harry Sunshine, a prominent dentist in Columbia, on the early morning of September 30, 2000. Sunshine was on his bicycle, getting his daily pre-dawn workout, when he was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver.
Police soon latched onto Tshona Gaymon who was driving her husband's black 1994 Lexus in the area at approximately the time of the accident. Over the next six years local law enforcement and Richland County prosecutors worked mightlily and successfully to hang the rap on Gaymon, including trying to pressure her husband, Charles Outlaw, to testify against her. According to Simms, the conspiracy involves tampering with evidence, perjury and destruction of police and prosecutor's files, complicity between prosecutors and defense attorneys. It was all done, he says, to protect one of their own, as well as other politically well connected local wheelers and dealers. And it was done, he says, with full knowledge that a black 1993 Lexus was also in the area that night and that it was repaired for major impact damage within days of Dr. Sunshine's hit-and-run death.
Simms writes his chilling story in the first-person, because he was there. As a private investigator of many years, he was hired by Charles Outlaw to exonerate his wife. After years of investigating and presenting evidence to proper authorities and to local media, Simms realized that all doors were closed to him. His only alternative was to write and publish a book, laying out his evidence and allowing the public to decide what happened that night in 2000.
Simms is to be admired for his passion for justice, which ultimately led him to spend years writing and publishing this book. Most of the contents are taken from the evidence Simms collected to present at Outlaw's trial. Outlaw was never tried and charges were eventually dropped to keep this evidence from coming to light, Simms said. The stress on Charles Outlaw, a man in his late 30s, eventually caused him to have a heart attack and undergo a heart transplant.
Simms writes: "The physical act of writing this book was not the difficult part of this project; the difficult part was reliving the anger and frustration at having to deal with the corruption, which included those who controlled my professional license. No one was accountable for this, and no one expected this to hit the light of day.
"The Sunshine family was betrayed, as was the trusting public of South Carolina."
Don't Get Arrested in South Carolina is available from Amazon.com or through Erik Publishing.