McCormick County Courthouse

A broken window greeted a McCormick County man as he came home one day to find his soon-to-be ex-wife standing in the living room, months after she moved out.

As he would later tell deputies, “I came home and saw that the back door had been broken into with the window busted out, walked around front and she was in the living room door, she then locked herself inside of the residence, and that’s when I called 911.”

In their report, McCormick County deputies noted the woman, Christine Braddy, told them she had gone to a hardware store to buy bolt cutters “to cut the lock on the gate at the end of the driveway.” But Braddy and three others are suing the sheriff’s office, arguing deputies were wrong to arrest them because Braddy said she was an owner of the house.

The arrestsThe McCormick County Sheriff’s Department first got involved Jan. 11, 2019, when Allen Dennis Braddy called to complain of a break-in in progress at 148 Hawk Road. In current online property records, Allen Braddy is the only listed owner of that property, and the report deputies filed lists him as the homeowner.

He told officers he came home to find Christine Braddy in his living room and called 911. He said Christine and his son, Elijah Braddy, had moved out in August 2018 and hadn’t been back since, the report said.

“I have already filed for a divorce, and I did not give anyone permission to enter my residence, and I want to press charges on anyone that came into my house,” he told deputies in the report.

Elijah Braddy initially told deputies he didn’t enter the house, he only brought Christine there, but later admits to helping take items inside. He also said Christine had broken the window out of the rear door, the report said.

Deputies spoke with Nicholas Temples and Valerie Richardson, who were also present. Temples said he drove the others there, and both acknowledged seeing Christine with bolt cutters, but denied going inside the house, the report said.

All four were arrested but later had their charges dropped. According to the McCormick County public index:

Christine Braddy was charged with second-degree burglary, malicious injury to personal property, $2,000 or less and possession/making implements capable of being used in crime. Her charges were dismissed at a preliminary hearing, effective March 18, 2019.

Elijah Braddy was charged with second-degree burglary. Prosecutors chose not to pursue the charge on March 28, 2019.

Nicholas Temples was charged with accessory before the fact to a felony. Prosecutors chose not to pursue the charge on March 18, 2019.

Valerie Richardson was charged with second-degree burglary. Her charge was dismissed at a preliminary hearing, effective March 18, 2019.

LawsuitOn April 22, Elijah Braddy filed a lawsuit against the McCormick County Sheriff’s Department and Sheriff Clarke Stearns, and the other three people who were arrested followed suit on May 8. Each person is represented by Hampton attorney Austin Crosby.

The initial complaint says Elijah Braddy and his mother were moving back into 148 Hawk Road and says his mother is an owner of the residence and gave him permission to enter.

“His mother informed MCSD that this was her home and she offered proof of her residency, among other factors, which MCSD failed to consider,” the complaint said. “Despite being informed that the plaintiff’s mother was an owner of the house, MCSD officers arrested plaintiff for burglary second degree.”

The complaint said he spent two nights in jail and accuses the sheriff’s office of false imprisonment and negligence. Each of the complaints alleges the same events — that each of the people arrested was given permission by Christine Braddy to be there.

On June 18, Columbia attorneys William H. Davidson II and Brandon M Briggs filed answers in response to the lawsuits on behalf of Stearns and the sheriff’s office. In the response, the defendants deny that Christine Braddy is an owner of the property, or that the others had permission to be on the property.

Each filed lawsuit is currently pending, awaiting the outcome of alternative dispute resolution. The plaintiffs are seeking a jury trial to resolve the issue, and have asked for money as the court sees fit, along with money to cover the cost of the legal action.

The attorneys involved in this case did not respond to attempts to reach them for comment.

Contact staff writer Damian Dominguez at 864-634-7548 or follow on Twitter @IJDDOMINGUEZ.