South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) agents are investigating the sixth officer-involved shooting in the Palmetto state so far this month.
Early Thursday, a man was shot by North Charleston police during a confrontation, according to SLED. Multiple shots were fired in the incident.
“Officers were responding to reports of a disturbance when they encountered the subject who had been presenting what looked like a firearm,” the release said.
The suspect, who was not identified by SLED, was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injures. No one else was injured in the incident.
Police have released very few details in the incident.
It is standard procedure for SLED to investigate any shooting incident involving law enforcement.
During the investigation, SLED officers interview all potential witnesses, collect relevant evidence, and test evidence for forensics.
Legislation aimed at formalizing SLED’s statewide role in investigating officer-involved shootings was introduced last year by S.C. senator Gerald Malloy, however Richland County, S.C. sheriff Leon Lott – one of the only local law enforcement leaders whose agency investigates its own officer-involved shootings – has organized resistance to the bill.
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SLED has reported a rash of shootings involving police in the last two months. In the last 6 weeks, there have been 11 officer-involved shootings in the Palmetto State, which has averaged around 44 police shootings in the last 4 years.
In one of those shootings, Myrtle Beach Police officer Jacob Hancher died in the line of duty.
The incident in North Charleston was the 41st officer-involved shooting in South Carolina this year.
In 2017, the Palmetto State set a record for the most officer-involved shootings in one year at 49. That year, the state had recorded 41 officer-involved shootings by Nov. 20 — which means SC is on track to set a record this year.
In 2019, there were 45 officer-involved shootings total in South Carolina, according to SLED.
According to SLED’s most recent uniform crime report, the rate of law enforcement officers assaulted climbed by 20 percent in 2019 — after and a 16 percent increase in assaults on law enforcement officers from 2017 to 2018.
“I am extremely concerned by the increased amount of violence in our state including the number of murders, assaults and violent attacks on law enforcement officers,” SLED chief Mark Keel said in a statement announcing the report on Monday.
This is the second shooting this year involving North Charleston Police officers. North Charleston is the third largest city in South Carolina with a population of more than 114,000.
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