An officer of the Hemingway, South Carolina police department was arrested and charged with voluntary manslaughter by agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) in connection with a fatal officer-involved shooting that took place just three days ago.
Cassandra Dollard, 52, was arrested in Berkeley County and transported to the Georgetown County detention center. As of this writing, she is being held without bond.
SLED’s investigation into the shooting is “ongoing,” and the agency said in its release that “no other information about the case will be disclosed at this time.”
According to a probable cause affidavit accompanying the warrant for her arrest, Dollard “initiated a traffic stop” on 46-year-old Robert Junior Langley, the deceased subject in this case, at 1:24 a.m. EST on February 6, 2020.
Langley was observed by Dollard “disregarding a stop sign,” prompting her attempt to pull him over.
“Langley failed to stop for Dollard and a vehicle pursuit ensued,” the affidavit continued. “During the pursuit, Langley disregarded traffic signals and travelled at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.”
Dollard pursued Langley from Williamsburg County into Georgetown County on Highway 261. At approximately 1:30 a.m. EST – six minutes after the pursuit began – Langley “drove his vehicle into a ditch at the intersection of School House Road and Choppee Road.”
What happened next?
“Langley, unarmed, attempted to exit the vehicle through the front passenger door,” the affidavit continued. “In a statement to agents, Dollard claimed she was in fear for her safety and due to that fear, discharged her department-issued firearm once, striking Langley in the chest.”
Langley was pronounced dead upon arrival at the Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital.
According to the affidavit, Dollard “had no authority to arrest Langley outside of Williamsburg County.” Furthermore, Dollard told SLED agents she “did not identify a weapon in Langley’s hands, nor was a weapon recovered at the scene.”
Voluntary manslaughter is a violation of § 16-3-50 of the S.C. Code of Laws. If found guilty of this charge, Dollard could be sentenced to up to thirty years in prison. The mandatory minimum sentence for this charge is two years imprisonment.
(Click to view)
(Via: Georgetown County Detention Center)
As with anyone accused of committing any crime, Dollard (above) is considered innocent until proven guilty by our criminal justice system – or until such time as she may wish to enter some form of allocution in connection with a plea agreement with prosecutors related to the charge filed against her.
In a post/ video released yesterday, I called on the various law enforcement agencies involved in this incident to release any video footage they may have in their possession related to this shooting.
“As SLED does its job, I believe we should expect full transparency from the law enforcement agencies involved in this incident – whether it be the town of Hemingway (whose officer fired the fatal shot) or the sheriff’s deputies who responded to the scene,” I wrote. “In other words, they should release all video and audio in their possession from this incident so the public can see what transpired.”
Such disclosure would be in keeping with my long-standing belief in transparency when it comes to shootings involving law enforcement officers. Unfortunately, the body cam law signed to great fanfare in 2015 by former governor Nikki Haley was “laden with loopholes,” leaving decisions about whether to release such footage exclusively up to local law enforcement agencies.
That is simply unacceptable when it comes to these high-profile cases …
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. In this case, that is S.C. fifteenth circuit solicitor Jimmy Richardson.
“When requested to investigate an OIS, SLED’s goal is to conduct a thorough, independent criminal investigation as timely as is possible under the circumstances,” a release from the agency noted. “SLED agents 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.”
SLED’s release noted the charge against Dollard was supported by “audio/ video recordings” as well as the officer’s own statements.
Hemingway is a town of fewer than 400 people located in the impoverished Interstate 95 corridor of the Palmetto State in Williamsburg County. Its population has declined steadily in recent decades, down from a peak of more than 1,000 residents in the 1970s.
THE RELEASE …20220208-NR009_Hemingway-Police-Officer-Charged-with-Voluntary-Manslaughter
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. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats – including that retro Atlanta Braves’ lid pictured above (worn upon request).
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