High-profile S.C. police shootings

Richard Combs, the former police chief of Eutawville appears in court in 2014. Combs fatally shot unarmed black man in 2011 and was charged with murder.

While the video of Walter Scott’s shooting by a North Charleston police officer is shocking and made national news, controversial police shootings are far from uncommon. Below are seven such police shooting incidents in South Carolina that made headlines in recent years — several of which had a racial component but none of which resulted in a murder charge against an officer as in the Walter Scott case.

September 2010: Sumter police shot and killed Aaron Jacobs, 25, a carjacking suspect who police said had a gun in his waistband when he ran away during a pat-down. An autopsy showed Jacobs was shot four times in the back of his head and in the back. Third Circuit Solicitor Ernest Finney did not press charges against the officer, saying the evidence did not support a criminal charge.

May 2011: Former Eutawville Police Chief Richard Combs, who is white, shot and killed Bernard Bailey, a black former prison guard, following a dispute over a traffic ticket in Town Hall. Combs was charged with murder, but he claimed he acted in self-defense. His trial ended in a hung jury last year, but prosecutors have said they will retry the case. In April 2014, Bailey’s family reached a $400,000 settlement in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed against the town.

May 2013: Anderson County deputy Erik Nubern shot Ricky Clark, who Nubern said was trying to run them over during the confrontation. Both men are white. Tenth Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams found that Nubern’s actions did not rise to a criminal level but called them “concerning.” She also dropped an attempted murder charge against Clark stemming from the incident.

October 2013: Charleston County Sheriff’s Deputies Levi Reiter and William Fawcett shot and killed Derryl Drayton, a 51-year-old black James Island man who was wielding a knife. The State Law Enforcement Division looked into the death while both deputies were suspended with pay. Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson reviewed SLED’s findings and said Drayton’s death was “sad and unfortunate” but that she wouldn’t seek indictments against the deputies.

February 2014: North Augusta Police officer Justin Craven shot a 68-year-old black man, Ernest Satterwhite, to death following a slow-speed, 9-mile chase that ended at Satterwhite’s Edgefield County home. Craven was charged with discharging a gun into an occupied vehicle and faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $1,000 if convicted. A grand jury also indicted Craven on a misdemeanor misconduct in office charge. The cases are pending.

April 2014: Richland County deputy Kirk Willis, a white member of the sheriff’s Drug Suppression Team, shot Tymeek Payne, a 21-year-old black man who Willis felt was trying to run over him. Payne was hit in the forearm and injured. A grand jury refused to indict Willis following the incident, but Sheriff Leon Lott later fired Willis, citing his bad judgment in the incident.

June 2014: Charleston Police office Jamal Medlin approached Denzel Curnell after he saw the black 19 year old wearing a hooded sweatshirt in 85-degree weather at the Bridgeview Village apartments. An investigation concluded that Curnell shot himself in the head as he lay on the ground during a struggle with Medlin. Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson decided not to pursue charges. The Charleston County coroner called Curnell’s death a suicide.

September 2014: South Carolina Trooper Sean Groubert attempted to pull over Levar Jones for a seat belt violation but shot Jones just moments after he got out of his truck at a Columbia gas station. Jones was returning to his truck to get his license. The incident was captured by Groubert’s dashboard camera. Jones survived, and Groubert was fired and is awaiting trial on a charge of aggravated assault and battery. The state’s Insurance Reserve Fund paid Jones $285,000.

Compiled by Robert Behre