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Anderson County Sheriff’s Office pays $140,000 to settle lawsuit over toddler’s death

Chris Thompson, left, grandmother of Josiah Tate, sits in the Anderson County Courthouse on Friday. Tate, 2, died in July 2012 after picking up a deputy’s gun and shooting himself.

By Nikie Mayo of the Independent Mail
See Original Article

The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office’s insurance policy will pay $140,000 to settle a lawsuit over the death of Josiah Tate, the 2-year-old who fatally shot himself with a deputy’s gun.

The order detailing the settlement was made public Monday, when it was filed in the Anderson County Courthouse.

Josiah shot himself in the head on July 3, 2012, in the bedroom of a mobile home that he and his mother, Antwanneshea Sharmel Carson, shared with then-sheriff’s deputy Jahwaun Blair. He died shortly thereafter.

Under investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and internally by the sheriff’s office, Blair eventually resigned. He was never charged in Josiah’s death.

Josiah’s grandmother, Chris Thompson, the appointed representative of his estate, filed a lawsuit in January 2013 accusing the sheriff’s office and Blair of “gross negligence and recklessness” and of wrongful death.

The case against Blair was partially settled last December, when Josiah’s family was granted $100,000 from his insurance company. Judge Alex Macaulay approved the “full and final settlement” of the claims against the sheriff’s office on Friday, but the terms were not made public until Monday.

According to the records, the South Carolina Insurance Reserve Fund will pay Josiah’s family $133,000 on behalf of the sheriff’s office to settle the wrongful-death claim. The state Insurance Reserve Fund will pay another $7,000 “for the conscious pain and suffering, if any, sustained by Josiah Antwan Tate and for any and all other claims.”

According to the settlement document, the $7,000 will cover bills from AnMed Health Medical Center and the cost of Josiah’s funeral. Of the sums paid out in the settlement, $56,000 will go to pay the fees of Chuck Allen, the Anderson lawyer who represented Josiah’s family. Another $2,099.60 will go toward costs related to the lawsuit, leaving $81,900.40 for Josiah’s family.

No other legal claims about Josiah’s death may be brought against the sheriff’s office or against Blair, according to the terms of the settlement.

Anderson County Deputy Coroner Don McCown said during his investigation of Josiah’s death in 2012 that the toddler had wandered away from his mother for a few minutes, and when she found him, the boy was playing with a .38-caliber handgun that he picked up from a bedroom table. That gun was Blair’s backup weapon, issued to him by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office. Blair was not at home or on duty at the time.

Before Josiah’s mother could take the gun away from him, the boy pulled the trigger. He died a short time later at AnMed Health Medical Center. McCown ruled Josiah’s death an accident.

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