Agents of the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) are on the scene of a residence near Montague Road in Greenville county this morning – continuing to investigate a fatal officer-involved shooting which took place there on Wednesday afternoon.
The shooting – which involved deputies of the Greenville county sheriff’s office – resulted in the death of the suspect, 40-year-old Earl Fitzgerald Hunter of Laurens, S.C.
The incident was the third officer-involved-shooting in the Palmetto State over the past week and the 21st officer-involved shooting so far this year.
According to local law enforcement, Greenville deputies and U.S. Marshals were attempting to serve an arrest warrant on Hunter at around 5:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday (June 23, 2021) at the address in question – which is located just west of Furman University and a few blocks away from Berea middle school.
“Deputies were in the process of serving an arrest warrant when the incident took place,” a news release from SLED noted.
No law enforcement officers were injured during the confrontation.
Hunter was allegedly armed at the time of the shooting, although the precise sequence of events leading up to his death has yet to be determined. He was said to have been “hiding” from deputies prior to the incident, and in addition to being armed Hunter was reportedly deemed “dangerous” by the law enforcement officers who were attempting to serve the arrest warrant.
The deputy who fired the shot that killed Hunter has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation of the incident, which is standard operating procedure in the aftermath of any officer-involved shooting.
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. Upon reviewing these reports, the solicitor makes a determination as to whether the officer(s) involved acted properly in discharging their weapons.
In this case, the file will be reviewed by the office of S.C. thirteenth circuit solicitor Walt Wilkins.
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“SLED’s goal is to conduct a thorough, independent criminal investigation as timely as is possible under the circumstances,” the agency’s release noted. “SLED investigators will conduct interviews with all potential witnesses in this matter. Further, SLED will collect all relevant evidence and will forensically test such evidence as needed.”
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.
SLED’s involvement in these inquiries also 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.
The record for officer-involved shootings in the Palmetto State in a given year is 49 – set in 2017 and equaled last year. Such incidents have obviously been on the rise in recent years, part of a disturbing escalation in violent crime in South Carolina.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass player and a dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including the above-pictured Washington Senators’ lid).
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