South Carolina’s top prosecutor says no to second look in Zachary Hammond police shooting case

Images from dashboard video show Seneca Police Lt. Mark Tiller as he approached and fired at Zachary Hammond who was driving a car in a Hardee’s parking lot.

State Attorney General Alan Wilson declined to review the controversial Zachary Hammond police shooting case, saying that “second-guessing” the decision of a local prosecutor would set a dangerous precedent.

In a letter to Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, Wilson said a state attorney general has, “in our recollection, never reviewed prosecutorial decisions made by the solicitors in their respective circuits.”

Wilson added that second-guessing local prosecutors would “result in a chaotic situation in the criminal justice system ... There can be but one prosecutor.”

Wilson wrote that he and his staff “understand the Hammond family’s grief for the loss of a son, but that the family has other avenues to seek “relief and accountability,” including a wrongful-death lawsuit and a federal civil rights investigation.

Seneca Police Lt. Mark Tiller shot Hammond, 19, on July 26 as Hammond and a friend were in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant. A dashcam video of the shooting showed Tiller rush toward the car and fire two shots into Hammond as the teen tried to drive away.

Despite the graphic video, 10th Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams declined to press charges against Tiller. After her decision, Rutherford asked Wilson to reopen the case. Lawyers for Hammond’s family also asked Wilson to take a second look, arguing that local prosecutors have an inherent conflict of interest when deciding whether to bring charges against officers who shoot suspects.

The Seneca shooting was one of 45 police shootings this year in South Carolina, one shy of the record set in 2012. So far this year, insurers for cities and police departments have paid out $17 million in settlements to families and victims of police shootings, The Post and Courier’s Shots Fired investigation found.