Body cam video shows North Charleston councilman arguing with police over noise complaint

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North Charleston Councilman Jerome Heyward sparred with the police officer who asked him to handle a noise complaint at a Dorchester Road restaurant, body camera footage shows.
The North Charleston Department released the footage on Facebook weeks after the District 5 politician protested officer James Francis Ryan’s requests to lower the music at The Montague Room.

The department called the release of the 13-minute clip an "exceptional action" to promote "transparency and public trust." Heyward, meanwhile, told The Post and Courier the video proves he wasn't intoxicated, as the police report from that Feb. 24 night stated.

In the video, a police officer arrives at the steak and cocktail lounge after 11 p.m., where patrons sit at tables on a mostly empty patio. Music booms from speakers. A city ordinance bars “unreasonably loud” noise within 300 feet of residences between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Heyward said the ordinance doesn't permit police to order establishments to turn music off.

“We got another noise complaint,” Ryan tells Heyward, who checks his watch before promising to handle the clamor.

About 90 seconds pass, the music still spilling from speakers, before the officer approaches the councilman again. The DJ briefly quiets the song.

“You do what you gotta do," Heyward says. "I ain’t turning my music off, period.”

As Ryan asks who he should ticket — Heyward or someone else — the councilman says the citation should be made out to him. A tense exchange follows.

“You know I don’t play no games,” Heyward says.

“I’m not trying to play any games either,” Ryan answers, to which Heyward responds: “I’m gonna settle this once and for all.”

Moments later, he calls Deputy Chief Karen Cordray, police reports indicate.

The DJ presses play, and Heyward talks briefly with Cordray before handing the phone to Ryan. He tells the deputy chief the noise complaint is legitimate. The DJ cranks up the music.

The clip ends with Ryan returning to his car, calling Cordray and cutting his camera. They discussed a citation before concluding it was “best to no longer deal with the drunken and unreasonable” Heyward, the report states.

Heyward said the footage proves he wasn't drunk. Kevin Smith, a manager at The Montague Room, agreed that the report and the footage differ. Smith said he believes the police report was purposefully written to tarnish Heyward's reputation.

"Do you ever see me falling down in the video? Do you ever see me holding onto anything?" Heyward said, adding that there are "nothing but discrepancies throughout the whole report."

He also noted two off-duty police officers, hired by the shopping center, hadn't asked the establishment to turn down the music.

Heyward previously told The Post and Courier that Michelle Stent-Hilton owns The Montague Room. Documents with the S.C. Secretary of State list Stent-Hilton as the business' registered agent.

Heyward's behavior that night has been condemned by law enforcement leaders including John C. Blackmon, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Tri-County Lodge #3.

The FOP asked Gov. Henry McMaster in a March 24 letter to “take appropriate action” against Heyward for allegedly obstructing police officers, refusing to comply with noise ordinances and using inappropriate language toward police.

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