Deputies: Driver of stolen SUV tried to run them down

ANDREW KNAPP/STAFF Rip is recovering after being shot by Berkeley County deputies in an incident involving his owner’s stolen car.

Two Berkeley County deputies fired their guns at a fleeing stolen SUV because the driver tried to run over them, according to an incident report released Friday.

The shots hit a dog that was in the SUV when it was stolen.

Cpl. Cody Graff and Deputy Corinthian Green fired their guns, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Michael Mule said. Graff has been with the Sheriff’s Office for six years, and Green has been with the office for six months, Mule said. Both are on paid administrative leave until the State Law Enforcement Division completes its investigation.

Rip, a 4-year-old Labrador retriever, was wounded by gunfire Wednesday while officers were chasing the stolen GMC Yukon. Rip’s owner left him in the SUV with the engine running in Mount Pleasant while he stepped out to get a pizza. He came back out to find somebody had jumped in the vehicle and driven off with the dog inside.

According to the incident report, the pursuit occurred as follows:

Berkeley County sheriff’s deputies spotted a white man driving the stolen vehicle on Highway 41 between South Hampton Road and Highway 402 and attempted to stop him.

They lost sight of the vehicle at one point during the chase and followed a trail of dust that led to a second sighting on Willow Hall Road.

Stop Sticks failed to deter the man, whom deputies said attempted to strike at least one cruiser.

Graff and Green ultimately detained the driver on Forest Road 230 after firing their weapons.

A third deputy reported arriving on the road to see the driver handcuffed on the ground and a white dog standing in the road. The stolen vehicle had crashed into a tree and was heavily damaged.

The driver complained of back and neck pain stemming from the wreck.

“It ain’t all worth this for a joy ride,” he is quoted in the report as saying before being transported to a nearby emergency room.

Deputies arrested the driver, Eric Wayne Humphries, 32, of Tedder Street in North Charleston, who was charged with grand larceny, reckless driving, failure to stop for blue lights, driving under suspension and animal cruelty.

Humphries is a habitual traffic offender and is on probation for a burglary charge, authorities said,

Including Wednesday’s incident, South Carolina officers have opened fire on at least 60 vehicles since January 2009, accounting for one in every four of the officer-involved shootings during that span, a Post and Courier investigation found.

With a few exceptions, including a North Augusta policeman indicted on a felony charge this week, the officers have rarely faced charges in those shootings, often saying that the cars posed a threat to their lives.

But the practice of shooting at vehicles has been banned in many police agencies over concerns for the safety of bystanders and innocent victims who might be inside.

Rip, who helps as a nursing-home therapy dog, was struck in the hind quarters and is being monitored for possible complications.

Andrew Knapp and Christina Elmore contributed to this story. Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.