Charleston police report offers few details on shooting as agency denies information requests
Late Saturday night, a Charleston police officer saw a sedan in West Ashley and tried to pull it over. But a police incident report didn’t say why.
The car didn’t brake for the lights and sirens until a half-mile down Savannah Highway, where its driver jumped out and ran under Interstate 526.
An officer ran after him, but the report didn’t say who the law enforcer was.
For about 350 yards, they ran. Gunfire resounded. But the report didn’t say who was shooting at whom or whether anyone was hit.
The document was released Monday after the Charleston Police Department denied several of The Post and Courier’s requests for it. It citeds a state investigation into the episode in which Officer Cory Goldstein and felon Mark L. Blake Jr., 26, suffered bullet wounds.
Still unreleased are the supplemental incident reports that might answer questions about the shootings.
Under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act, a law agency is required to divulge its crime reports, including the supplemental documents, unless it can show that their release would foil a prospective police action.
Police officials instead said it would be up to the State Law Enforcement Division to disseminate any reports. SLED said it wouldn’t release the supplemental reports until its agents had a chance to investigate the information they contain.
Deputy Chief Tony Elder said the agencies agreed to let SLED control the flow of information to the public. The two also agreed on the one-minute statement that Chief Greg Mullen gave to the media, Elder said.
“We want to ensure it won’t be harmful to SLED’s investigation,” Elder said. “We’re not trying to be adversarial.”
The agency must make all crime reports from the past two weeks available to anyone who shows up and asks for them, according to state law.
At police headquarters Monday afternoon, the newspaper gave agency spokesman Charles Francis a copy of that statute, but he refused to make the records available for public viewing.
“It doesn’t make any difference if SLED is investigating,” S.C. Press Association attorney Jay Bender said. “If CPD generated a report, you’re entitled to that report.”
The initial incident report added little to the public’s understanding of the event.
A patrol officer tried to stop a sedan at Savannah Highway and Dupont Road about 10:38 p.m. The car “finally pulled over,” the report states, on the ramp from southbound Savannah Highway to I-526.
“The driver fled on foot,” the report states. “The officer rapidly engaged in a foot pursuit.”
The chase ended behind the Comfort Suites at Savannah Highway and Sam Rittenberg Boulevard.
“The suspect engaged in gunfire and the officer instantaneously returned fire,” the report states.
The police chief said early Sunday that the suspect turned during the chase. Shots rang out, he said, and the two men were struck.
Goldstein, 23, suffered “other major injury,” according to the report. It was not life-threatening.
The report does not specify any other officer’s role or who took Blake into custody.
Officer Terryann Ferguson was somehow involved, according to the document. It also lists the 13 supervisors and other police employees who responded.
A resident of Jobee Drive in West Ashley who has a history of drug and firearms arrests, Blake was released from the hospital Monday. He then was jailed on charges of trafficking cocaine, unlawfully carrying a firearm and failing to stop for blue lights.
He was held at the request of SLED, which routinely examines officer-involved shootings. Agency spokesman Thom Berry said the agency was looking into whether the use of force was justified and what charges Blake should face.
SLED officials typically do not discuss agency investigations until they are completed.
Berry, who is in charge of releasing documents for SLED, said he had been unaware of his agency’s role as the clearinghouse for the Police Department’s public information about the shootings until after the newspaper’s repeated inquiries.
The newspaper also has requested from the police copies of 911 calls, dispatch communications and in-car video.