Family of man shot by police: Release all videos, not parts

A sheriff’s department in South Carolina has released dashboard camera footage of a deputy killing a Black man who approached officers with a wooden stake

ByJeffrey Collins Associated Press
March 22, 2022, 6:30 PM
This photo provided by the Richland County Sheriff's Department on Sunday, March 20, 2022 shows Sheriff's Deputy Zachary Hentz. On Sunday, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott defended Saturday's fatal shooting of Irvin D. Moorer Charley, a Black man wh
This photo provided by the Richland County Sheriff's Department on Sunday, March 20, 2022 shows Sheriff's Deputy Zachary Hentz. On Sunday, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott defended Saturday's fatal shooting of Irvin D. Moorer Charley, a Black man who walked towards officers with a wooden stake, saying deputies can't be expected to sacrifice their lives in dangerous situations. The 34-year-old Moorer Charley was shot and killed by Deputy John Anderson after deputies responded to a call about domestic violence. Lott said that Hentz later arrived, and that deputies unsuccessfully tried to use an electrical stun gun to subdue Moorer Charley. (Richland County Sheriff's Department via AP)
The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A sheriff's department in South Carolina released dashboard camera footage Tuesday of a deputy fatally shooting a Black man as he approached officers with a wooden stake, a killing the man's family called unjustified.

The 49-second clip from a longer video shows Irvin D. Moorer Charley being shot with a stun gun while slowly walking toward the officers as one deputy yells “Taser! Taser!" The stun gun has no apparent affect, and then Moorer Charley runs at the Richland County deputy as the officer fires seven times until the man collapses.

Moorer Charley’s family has seen the footage and a representative said it did not change their minds.

“It's a clear cover up for us. They shot a man who they knew was mentally ill," said Benita Robinson, a legal assistant for Johnny E. Watson, the attorney representing some family members.

The sheriff's department has only released small segments of the dashboard camera and deputy's body camera to the public with Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott recently saying all the footage was “just not something everyone needs to see."

“If you want to show something, show the whole thing," Robinson said.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department also released a photo of the 16-inch (40-centimeter) long piece of wood in Moorer Charley’s hands as well as the 911 call. A statement said authorities wanted to be completely transparent and “provide clarity to misstatements that this was a mental health call for service.”

Moorer Charley's brother told the deputies his brother was mentally ill in parts of videos that weren't released and what deputies called a wooden stake was just a piece of wood, according to Robinson.

The officers are heard calling Moorer Charley “Irvin" on the dashboard video released Tuesday as deputies had been called to deal with the man's mental problems about two dozen times without violence, said Robinson. She added the family plans a statement and a possible news conference soon.

The 911 call came in just before Saturday's shooting. The sheriff's department said it was made by an unidentified woman who said she was Moorer Charley' sister. The woman said the man had pulled a knife on her brother, mother and stepfather and was punching them.

Moorer Charley's mother is also seen on the dashcam video by her son's side begging the deputies “don’t hit my son. Please don’t hit my son” before falling to the ground after a deputy orders her to move out of the way. She can be seen writhing on the ground after the shots are fired at her son.

Moorer Charley is heard twice on the dashcam footage telling the deputies “y'all can shoot me."

Lott defended deputies John Anderson and Zachary Hentz, saying they were protecting themselves from potentially deadly violence in a close encounter. Hentz arrived after Anderson and fired the Taser and the seven shots as he was backpedaling, according to the dashcam footage.

The Richland County Sheriff's Department investigates its own police shootings while nearly every other agency in the state relies on the State Law Enforcement Division as independent examiners.

Lott said his deputies have the expertise and temperament to fairly investigate their fellow officers. He also uses a citizen advisory board to review shootings and other major incidents and report back to him and asks the FBI to review any officer shootings.

The sheriff said he showed all the videos to that board as well as prosecutors, who are still reviewing the case to see if the shooting was justified.

Ivan Charley's said Monday his brother's life was complicated by mental illness that contributed to frequent fights he had with his family,

The police got called sometimes, but every other time they calmed Moorer Charley down with common sense instead of with guns drawn and even sometimes gave him rides so he could leave the area, his brother said.

Ivan Charley said his brother had calmed down before the deputies arrived and only picked up the piece of wood after he got upset at the officers — footage that has not been released to the public which has only seen after Moorer Charley walked out of the home with the wood in his hand.

“He was still alive, but y’all killed him because he had a stick in his hand,” Ivan Charley said. “It’s a stick. ... It’s still wood, and it’s not made of bullets.”

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Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.

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