County sued by whistle blower for failing to investigate wrongdoing in police department

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – A former professional standards investigator is suing Horry County after he says the county retaliated against him after he reported wrongdoing by officers of the police department.

The lawsuit was filed by Matthew Darrah on Thursday and says Darrah was hired by the Horry County Police Department in March 2013 after previously serving as police office for the department.

The plaintiff reported directly to Chief of Police Saundra Rhodes and while he worked for Horry County police, he says he uncovered illegalities in the police department, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges there were cases not investigated by various members of the police department and also cites “numerous discrepancies, illegalities and violations of state and federal law by various members of the Horry County Police Department.” The former investigator also accused the police department of falsifying evidence records.

When he reported the issues to Chief Rhodes, his findings were never investigated.

According to the document, the officer made a formal complaint against the chief on November 23, 2015 and got an email the next day from a lieutenant who informed him he was going to pick up his gun, badge and car. The former investigator was later told he would be moving from his position as investigator with internal affairs to a new position reviewing business licenses and inspecting tow trucks. The lawsuit also says the investigator was eventually terminated.

News13 reached out to Horry County for comment on the lawsuit and received the following:

“It is county policy not to provide any commentary on substantive matters relating to pending litigation. Thanks.”

Bert von Herrmann, lawyer for former Police Chief Saundra Rhodes, said he’s spoken with his client today and she was not aware of Darrah’s claims. Herrmann says Rhoades was taken aback by Darrah’s comments against her, especially because he wasn’t a great employee.  The lawyer maintains Rhoades is not named on the lawsuit, she’s not been accused of any wrongdoing and she has never done anything wrong but protect the citizens of Horry County.

The lawsuit appears to tie in with other allegations against the Horry County Police Department.

About a year before Darrah says he was fired, women began coming forward saying former detective Allen Large had sexually assaulted them while investigating their cases. Some of the women have said police knew about allegations against Large and didn’t do anything. Over the summer, a grand jury indicted four former Horry County Officers, including Large, for charges including misconduct in office.

Solicitor Jimmy Richardson says he’s going to reach out to Darrah’s attorney and ask which cases the evidence was tied to so he can hand that information over to defense attorneys.

“My thing is to completely be honest, find out, be diligent in finding out and then if there’s anything new turn it over so that the integrity of the system remains in place,” said Richardson.