State Watch

South Carolina police defend killing of Black man holding wooden stake

A South Carolina sheriff defended police officers who shot and killed a Black man on Saturday after he refused their orders to drop a wooden stake he was holding, The Associated Press reported

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said his officers attempted to use a Taser to subdue Irvin D. Moorer Charley but resorted to deadly force when the device failed and Moorer Charley allegedly charged Deputy Zachary Hentz, who shot him four times from a few feet away. 

“We can’t expect these deputies to go out here and be killed,” Lott told reporters, per the AP. “They have to protect themselves. And that’s what this deputy did yesterday. He protected himself. He went home to his family last night. Unfortunately Mr. Charley didn’t. That’s a decision that he made.”

Lott said that when a deputy first arrived at the scene, multiple people said that Moorer Charley had injured them and was inside the residence holding a knife. 

Lott also played a video clip of the responding officer repeatedly yelling at Moorer Charley to drop his weapon before Hentz arrived and attempted to use a Taser, according to the AP.

Lott said he played the full video of the encounter for the county coroner’s office and will show the footage to the local prosecutor, his department’s citizen advisory board and Moorer Charley’s family. 

“It’s just not something everyone needs to see,” Lott added. “I think the people that need to see it are going to see it.”

Lott’s remarks come as critics argue that Moorer Charley, 34, was having a mental health episode and deputies were wrong to kill him. 

In a separate news conference, the South Carolina Black Activist Coalition and nonprofit Stand As One said that they don’t believe Moorer Charley’s shooting was justified. 

Lott responded to critics’ claims, saying that a 911 call did not label Moorer Charley as someone who was experiencing a mental health episode but rather accused him of domestic violence, the AP noted. 

“It’s sad all around,” Lott said. “Mental health is a problem in our community. We do not need to continue to ignore it. When someone cries out for help, they need to get help.”

Tags Columbia killing of Black Americans South Carolina
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