South Carolina has seen a record-tying 49 officer-involved shootings in 2020, according to a news release from the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). That matches the mark set in 2017 – and continues a troubling escalation of this metric.
There were 45 officer-involved shootings in South Carolina in 2019 – the eighth straight year in which the state saw at least forty such incidents.
The latest incident involved officers of the Charleston, S.C. police department – who were responding to a domestic disturbance at the Bridgeview Village apartments on North Romney Street in downtown Charleston.
The incident took place shortly after 3:15 a.m. EST. when Charleston police received a domestic violence complaint involving “an individual with a gun.”
According to police reports, one Charleston police officer “was shot in the chest” during an ensuing exchange of gunfire. Thankfully, the officer was wearing a ballistic vest and sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
The suspect who fired on the officer was killed during the hail of bullets, however.
Bridgeview Village – formerly known as Bayside Manor – is no stranger to violence, according to reporter Gregory Yee of The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier.
“Its history of criminal violence dates back to the early 2000s,” Yee noted, citing multiple homicides as well as a 2008 incident in which a three-year-old girl was wounded during a drive-by shooting at the 300-unit complex, which is located on the banks of the Cooper River on the neck of the Charleston peninsula.
(Via: Google Maps)
SLED investigates officer-involved shootings as a matter of protocol in the vast majority of local law enforcement jurisdictions in the Palmetto State – presenting independent, investigative reports to the solicitor with jurisdiction over the county or municipality where the shooting transpired.
At that point, the solicitor makes a determination as to whether the officer(s) involved acted properly in discharging their weapons.
SLED also typically issues arrest warrants in connection with the suspects who are involved in officer-involved shootings.
Why is the statewide agency involved in such local law enforcement inquiries? Several reasons …
First, local law enforcement agencies request SLED’s assistance because the agency has consistently drawn high marks for the professionalism, objectivity and accuracy it brings to these inquiries.
Specifically, the agency has established itself as proficient in assessing the ballistic and forensic evidence associated with such probes – bringing investigatory resources to bear on crime scenes that many local jurisdictions lack.
Every bit as importantly, SLED’s involvement in these inquiries keeps local law enforcement agencies from having to investigate their own officers – which could potentially lead to conflicts of interest.
Even if local law enforcement agencies were to conduct credible inquires into these matters, critics could seize upon the fact that the investigations were not independent – creating needless (and avoidable) controversy.
This news outlet has repeatedly argued that state lawmakers should make SLED’s statewide role in investigating these incidents part of state law. Unfortunately, so far such legislation has been successfully blocked by influential Richland County, S.C. sheriff Leon Lott – one of the only local law enforcement leaders whose agency still investigates its own officer-involved shootings.
According to SLED, its goal is “to conduct a thorough, independent criminal investigation as timely as is possible under the circumstances.”
“SLED investigators will conduct interviews with all potential witnesses in this matter,” its release noted. “Further, SLED will collect all relevant evidence and will forensically test such evidence as needed. Information gathered in the SLED investigation of the incident will be summarized in a case file report to be submitted to prosecutors.”
We will keep our readers updated as it relates to the latest officer-involved shooting in Charleston – which has been home to rising lawlessness.
Incidentally, this is the second officer-involved shooting involving the Charleston police this year. Last year there were no such incidents involving Charleston officers.
For the latest on all of these incidents, check out the newsroom page on SLED’s updated website.
EXTRA: SLED NEWS RELEASE
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