The State Law Enforcement Division this afternoon released the Charleston Police Department report that summarizes the shooting of an officer and a suspect Saturday night in West Ashley.
The move came after multiple requests from The Post and Courier and repeated denials by the police to provide the reports its employees generated in connection with the incident.
Under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act, a police agency is required to release crime reports generated in the past 14 days.
The initial incident report adds little to the public’s understanding of the event.
It stated that a police officer tried to stop a sedan at Savannah Highway and Dupont Road about 10:38 p.m. The report did not say why.
Despite the police cruiser’s lights and siren, the car did not stop until it braked on the ramp from southbound Savannah Highway to Interstate 526.
“When the vehicle came to a complete stop, the driver fled on foot,” the report stated. “The officer rapidly engaged in a foot pursuit directly behind the suspect.”
The pursuit ended behind the Comfort Suites at the intersection of Savannah Highway and Sam Rittenberg Boulevard.
“The suspect engaged in gunfire and the officer instantaneously returned fire,” the report stated.
The report’s narrative did not say whether anyone was shot. But a portion of it indicated that Officer Cory Goldstein, 23, suffered “other major injury.”
It did not say who shot whom. It did not say what role any other officer had in the incident or who took the suspect, 26-year-old Mark Blake Jr., into custody.
The report stated that Officer Terryann Ferguson was somehow involved. It also listed the 13 police supervisors who responded to the scene and mentioned that “several” patrol officers, detectives, K9 officers, crime-scene investigators, Forensic Services Director Judy Gordon and police spokesman Charles Francis were there.
Goldstein, the wounded officer, did not suffer a life-threatening injury.
Blake, a felon with a history of drug and firearms arrests, was released from the hospital and booked into Charleston County’s jail this afternoon. The jail lists the charges against him as trafficking cocaine, unlawful carrying of a firearm and failing to stop for blue lights. It also states that he is being held at SLED’s request.
It is not known when he might go before a magistrate for a bond hearing.
SLED routinely examines officer-involved shootings to determine whether an officer’s use of force was justified and whether any charges are warranted — either against the officer, the person on the receiving end of the officer’s force, or both.
SLED spokesman Agent Thom Berry said that agents were looking into the “officer-involved portion” of the episode and determining what charges Blake should face.
During a conference call with The Post and Courier that included Berry, Charleston Deputy Chief Tony Elder added that police and SLED officials had convened on the night of the shootings and decided that SLED would handle the release of public information. Elder said his agency does not want to compromise any part of the SLED probe.
That’s why SLED distributed the initial incident report this afternoon.
But Berry — who, as SLED’s public information officer, is in charge of releasing documents — said he wasn’t aware of that arrangement until this afternoon.
Berry added that the Police Department’s supplemental incident reports, which might shed more light on the shootings, would not be released immediately because SLED agents needed time to investigate the information they contain. He said their disclosure might come Tuesday.
S.C. Press Association attorney Jay Bender said the law demands that the Police Department release the documents. The law states that the agency must make all crime reports from the past two weeks available to anyone who shows up and asks for them.
“It doesn’t make any difference if SLED is investigating,” Bender said. “If CPD generated a report, you’re entitled to that report.”
At Police Department headquarters before SLED’s distribution of the initial report, a newspaper reporter handed the agency’s spokesman a copy of state law, but he declined to look at it and to make the records available for public viewing.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.
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