Sumter man charged after racial, profanity-laced disturbance at grocery store caught on camera


A man involved in a racially charged, profanity-laced disturbance at a local grocery store that was captured on video and circulated on social media turned himself in to the Sumter Police Department last week.

The incident, which was recorded by a witness inside the store, happened after 10:15 p.m. April 9 at the Food Lion that used to be Bi-Lo on Wedgefield Road.

According to the Sumter Police Department, John Walter Miles, 27, of Sumter, was shopping with his girlfriend when the disturbance happened, said Tonyia McGirt, public information officer for the police department. Based on information gathered, Miles reportedly became irate after a clerk refused to sell alcohol to the couple.

According to an incident report, an employee claimed that Miles called his coworkers the N-word and caused a scene.

In the video circulating on social media, which was sent to The Sumter Item on Tuesday and included at least Facebook and TikTok, Miles continually repeated “Black lives don’t matter” and that “all lives matter,” strewn with profanities, as he tried to push the sliding doors open while his girlfriend blocked his way in.

Miles reportedly told officers on scene that he used racial slurs, and officers asked him to leave the premise per the business’s request, according to the incident report. He reportedly refused to leave with his girlfriend and her mother until officers eventually escorted him off the property.

Officers claimed Miles was under the influence of alcohol in the incident report.

According to his LinkedIn profile, he was a drill sergeant leader at the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Association, a position the professional social media platform says he has held since December 2018. The academy, located at Fort Jackson in Columbia, posted on social media on April 14 to say they are aware of “the video” and that it “has our full attention.”

According to Fort Jackson personnel, Miles was not active duty prior to the incident.

Miles was arrested on Friday, April 16, and charged with trespassing and aggravated breach of peace, McGirt said. He was booked at the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center before being placed on house arrest with a $15,465 bond. According to public records, his next court date is May 17.

An investigation is continuing.