NEWBERRY — A 24-year-old Newberry man is in jail on charges he assaulted a county sheriff’s deputy during a traffic stop late Tuesday in the Helena section of the county.
Trevor Denois Sligh, 24, of 2033 Shelly St., was charged with assault and battery on a police officer while resisting arrest, possession of crack cocaine, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
According to the sheriff’s office, Sligh tried unsuccessfully to remove a pistol from one of his pants pockets during the stop.
Sheriff Lee Foster said Deputy Matthew Womack was lucky to come out of the incident alive.
“This was truly a fight for life or death,” Foster said. “We are both fortunate and blessed that the deputy survived this incident because I am convinced that had the suspect been able to retrieve the weapon from his pocket, he would have shot the deputy.”
The incident occurred just after 11:30 p.m. Tuesday when Womack saw a vehicle driving without lights on Cottage Avenue in the Helena section of Newberry County. When Womack stopped the vehicle, he could smell a strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle so he called for backup, according to Foster.
When Womack asked Sligh, the driver and lone occupant of the vehicle, to step out of the vehicle, Sligh attempted to reach into his pocket. Sligh was told to stop, but reached for his pocket again and became combative with the deputy. Womack attempted to physically stop the suspect from going into his pocket and a struggle broke out.
It was during the struggle that Womack could feel the item in the pocket was a pistol, said Foster.
Womack used pepper spray and a Taser to subdue the suspect, but Foster said both were ineffective. The struggle continued until Sligh was able to land a blow with his elbow into the deputy’s face and nose.
“It was then the suspect broke free and fled on foot,” said Foster.
Other law enforcement officers arrived and used bloodhounds to search the area for Sligh, but did not find him. Sligh was taken into custody around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, said Foster.
On a search of the suspect’s vehicle, the officers found both marijuana and crack cocaine in the vehicle. Investigators described the quantities as a small amount. Criminal history records show that Sligh had previously been on probation for assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature in 2008.
Womack, who has been with the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office since May 2011, was treated and released from a local hospital.
“We have come to a point in society where there is no respect for the law, law enforcement, or the court system,” Foster said. “Because human life seemingly has little or no value to others, because we consistently see those who violate the law receive little or no jail time, and because we have allowed many to blame law enforcement not the criminals for the problems, we are consistently seeing outrageous and violent acts against others. Until we deal with the root issues and hold others accountable for their actions, we will continue to watch the local news and say to ourselves what is wrong with the world.”