ANDREWS, S.C. (WPDE) — An Atlantic Beach police officer, who used to work for Pickens Police Department, was arrested by US Marshals on Jan. 2.
Akiel Jamar McKnight, 28, of Andrews, was charged with misconduct in office, solicitation of a minor, 3 counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, 2 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.
According to police, the incidents occurred while he was employed with the Pickens Police Department.
Warrants state that on or between the dates of Oct. 1, 2017 and May 15, 2018, “McKnight was employed with the Pickens Police Department and failed to properly discharge his duties by committing the offenses of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, criminal solicitation of a minor and sexual exploitation of a minor.”
Another warrant states that McKnight tried to contact a minor to “engage in sexual activity” and asked the minor to “send the defendant sexually explicit photographs and/or videos.”
The Pickens Police Department asked SLED to investigate.
McKnight was recently employed with the Atlantic Beach Police Department, according to Chief Quentin Robinson.
He said McKnight was hired on Dec. 13 and was still on his probationary period. Robinson said he was not aware of the SLED investigation when they hired McKnight.
McKnight was fired Thursday, Robinson said.
Robinson released this statement:
After receiving and reviewing a thorough report from SLED, the Town of Atlantic Beach is justified in terminating Akiel McKnight from his probationary period with our Police Department. McKnight’s termination is effectively immediately this 3rd day of January, 2019 at approximately 2 p.m.
ABC 15 requested McKnight’s file from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy (SCCJA).
He has worked in four departments including Atlantic Beach Police; the city of Georgetown’s police department; the Andrews Police Department and in Pickens.
He worked in Pickens from Jan 2016 to May 2018. In Andrews from June 2018 to October 2018. He worked in Georgetown for one day in October 2018 and then was hired in Atlantic Beach in December, according to his record.
An affidavit in his SCCJA file shows that in December Robinson did a background investigation on McKnight and that he was of “good character” and didn’t have any criminal offenses.
A report in the file from SCCJA regarding his employment with Georgetown states he was terminated due to “supplemental information obtained after a background investigation.”
A public record search shows that McKnight filed a federal lawsuit against the Pickens Police Department, the city of Pickens and two other people.
The lawsuit states that while McKnight was employed as an officer, he was romantically pursued by another male, who send him nude photos that McKnight claims he didn’t solicit.
In April 2018, McKnight was suspended for two weeks without pay for conduct unbecoming of a police officer, according to the lawsuit.
McKnight claims in the lawsuit that he didn’t violate any rules or laws and made an employment grievance with the city administrator.
During the grievance meeting, the police chief changed his ruling from conduct unbecoming of a police officer to contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which McKnight denied.
A month later, another meeting was held and the police chief changed his position again and stated that McKnight violated an order of the department.
In May 2018, McKnight was suspended and then fired.
In September 2018, the EEOC issued a right to sue letter to McKnight.
He’s asking for damages for libel, slander and defamation.
The City of Pickens responded to the federal lawsuit and denied all allegations.
Chuck Thompson, the city’s attorney, said they will defend the lawsuit to the best of their abilities.
McKnight was transferred from J. Reuben Long Detention Center to the Pickens County Detention Center.
Heather Gale, Thursday, January 3rd 2019, wpde.com, “Atlantic Beach officer charged with misconduct, solicitation of a minor”, https://wpde.com/news/local/pickens-police-officer-charged-with-misconduct-solicitation-of-a-minor