Officials from South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson’s Office said Friday they will not be filing charges in the officer-involved shooting death of 28-year-old Ariane McCree in Chester, South Carolina.
After reviewing the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigation, Wilson’s office decided not to prosecute. They said officer and witness statements concluded that McCree pointed a gun at officers while handcuffed before he was fatally shot.
“Because the officers acted in self-defense and defense of others present at the scene, the Attorney General’s Office has declined to prosecute the officers,” the news release Friday said.
McCree was killed by police after he was detained for allegedly shoplifting at Walmart on Nov. 23. Chester Police officials have said that McCree assaulted an officer before he was shot and killed.
While a recently filed federal lawsuit tells one story, SLED’s investigation revealed entirely different details.
Less than an hour before McCree was killed outside of Walmart, a cashier said he scanned an item for him and was told by McCree to put it on his tab. He then walked out before paying for it.
According to the lawsuit, he returned when he realized he didn’t pay for the item.
He was then arrested by a Chester Police Department officer working security who said he stole an item. McCree was taken to the loss prevention office inside Walmart, where he was searched, the news release said.
“An officer searched McCree and found a pocketknife and some loose cash,” the Attorney General’s office press release said. “Walmart security footage shows McCree barreled into the officer, opened the door of the office, and fled the building while handcuffed.”
The lawsuit said he was threatened by officers while in the office, but that was not included in the news release.
An officer then chased McCree into the parking lot. At some point in during the chase, the officer lost sight of McCree, according to the release.
“Two customers in the parking lot witnessed McCree enter a black car and exit with a firearm in his hand while still handcuffed,” the news release said. That detail was not at all mentioned in the lawsuit filed by McCree’s family.
“A witness saw McCree stand up and point his gun at the officer again,” the attorney general office’s release said. “The officer fired again, ran out of ammunition, and radioed to the other officers for help.”
However, there is no video footage of this shooting, according to the news release.
“This officer was not wearing a body-worn camera, and there is no Walmart video surveillance footage of the shooting confrontation between this officer and McCree,” the release said. “However, witness statements corroborate the officer’s statement.
A second officer who had just arrived on scene then said McCree pointed a handgun at him, according to the release.
“Fearing for his life and others, the officer fired his gun at McCree several times and walked toward him,” the news release stated. “This officer’s body-worn camera footage shows that McCree was shot and collapsed to the ground.”
According to Wilson’s office, the body cam footage shows that “McCree tried to retain control of his black and silver Taurus semi-automatic pistol as the officer struggled to pry the weapon away from him.”
McCree was transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
McCree’s family is suing Chester Police Department and the individual officers for gross negligence, negligent hiring, use of force, unlawful seizure, and several other allegations in the case. Walmart is being sued for violating McCree’s Fourth Amendment rights and survival action.
On the day the lawsuit was filed in civil court last month, McCree’s supporters held a “March for Justice” rally where his family stressed that they needed to see the videos to find out exactly what happened.