ROCK HILL, SC--A Rock Hill police captain was fired Monday after a female police department employee said the captain assaulted her in a shredder room, according to a document released Tuesday to The Herald.
Capt. John Thickens was fired after an incident May 2 in the detective division of police headquarters, according to the document provided by City Attorney Paul Dillingham. The document was provided in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Herald.
Thickens could not be reached Tuesday for comment. In a statement to the department as part of an internal investigation, he called the encounter "good natured humor and for this to be portrayed as anything else is simply wrong."
The FOIA document states that Thickens had been on paid suspension since May 2. During the department probe, additional issues were uncovered, and money paid to Thickens during the suspension was recouped, according to the document.
No details were provided about the additional issues. The city declined further comment.
The documents provided to The Herald include statements from the woman and several officers. The woman, who is not a police officer, was not identified.
According to the documents:
Around 9 a.m. on May 2, the woman took a stack of papers to the shredder room. According to her written statement, she heard the shredder running but could not see who was in the room because the door was partially closed. She peeked in the door twice, saw Thickens and turned to leave, the woman's statement notes.
"As I did, he flung the door open, grabbed me by the arm and jerked me into the room and shut the door," the woman's statement notes. "As he was jerking me in the room, I screamed."
"Then he said, 'Did I scare you?'" the statement continues. "I said, 'No.'"
Then he said, "You screamed," according to the statement. "I said, 'No, it was a laugh.' He said, 'It was loud.' I said, 'Yea, sometimes I laugh loud.'"
Then, the woman tried to hurry to leave, and Thickens asked if she wanted him to shred the papers in her hands. She declined the offer, the statement notes.
"Then he said, 'I'll shred them. Hand them here,'" the woman's statement notes. "So I did. I gave him the papers and hurried off."
Thickens' statement, dated May 3, notes he was shredding reports when he heard the woman and saw her hand on the door to the shredder room.
"I took her hand or wrist and moved the door and said, 'Hey! Come in here and do this'" shredding, according to Thickens' statement. "I opened the door about halfway when I said this, and my words were in a joking or humorous manner."
The woman shouted as if she was startled, which Thickens knew she would do, according to his statement. Thickens wrote that he offered to shred the papers in the woman's hands or "step out" of the room so she could shred them. In the end, the woman left the papers.
"I am surprised as well as disappointed that this apparently is being portrayed in a negative manner," Thickens wrote. "Good natured humor is a frequent part of work, on the floor and in meetings, and for this to be portrayed as anything else is simply wrong."
Thickens' statement also notes that he requested a polygraph test.
Within moments of the encounter, the woman tried to talk to Lt. Jerry Waldrop about the incident, but he was busy, according to her statement. Hours later, she confided in Lt. Larry Vaughan.
"(Her) skin was very red as she was telling me about this (the incident) and would say that she felt sick about what might happen if this came out," Vaughan wrote in a statement dated May 2.
Detective David Hanoka and Waldrop heard the incident, labeled as a physical assault, according to an internal Rock Hill violent incident report. Hanoka's desk is near the shredder room.
"Within a few seconds of her passing my desk, I heard a loud gasp," Hanoka wrote. "I could see the door shut out of the corner of my eye, and then (I heard) some laughter. I did not think anything of it."Thickens started with the department in August 1990. He served in several roles, including police officer, special investigator and police detective.