North Charleston police fired Sgt. Eddie Bullard this week after an internal probe found him guilty of misconduct and untruthfulness for fabricating a story about his July 4 shooting.
North Charleston Police Chief Jon Zumalt notified Bullard of his termination with a certified letter sent to his home on Monday, three days after the 15-year veteran was suspended without pay.
Bullard disappeared from the public eye last week after police discredited his account of being shot by a shadowy suspect outside a Rivers Avenue business. He did not return messages left on his cellphone Wednesday.
Multiple sources said he is in an area behavioral health facility receiving treatment. Zumalt, who was out of town and unavailable, has said he was concerned about Bullard’s mental health after the incident.
The police department announced Bullard’s firing in a two-line statement released Wednesday afternoon. Police referred further questions to the State Law Enforcement Division, which is investigating the incident and evaluating possible criminal charges.
SLED spokeswoman Kathryn Richardson would only say that the investigation is ongoing.
The bizarre incident began around 4:30 a.m. on Independence Day when Bullard radioed a report that he had been shot outside the Carpet Wholesalers store at 6929 Rivers Ave. He told officers he was jumped from behind after he stopped to talk with a suspicious man he saw standing outside the store, which was closed.
Bullard reported that the man who jumped him tried to get his gun, and during the struggle the gun fired. The bullet struck his protective vest but did not penetrate his abdomen. He ended up in the hospital with a large welt but no lasting damage.
Police officials had already begun to question his story. Among other things, Bullard offered only a vague description of his attackers, no witnesses saw the attack and the evidence didn’t support his account, officials said.
Bullard finally admitted on Friday that he had fabricated the story, Zumalt said. Bullard shot himself, the chief said.
Zumalt and others have cited Bullard’s mental condition and unspecified stresses at home as contributing factors.
The head of North Charleston’s NAACP has called for sensitivity training for police, saying the story would be more accepted if blame fell on a black assailant. Initial reports stated that the gunman was black and wearing black clothes.