Widow of man slain in police shooting sues town of Eutawville, former police chief

After a storm blew through Eutawville on Wednesday May 11, 2011, Briana Bailey came to her father Bernard's grave behind Springfield Missionary Baptist Church to straighten up the flowers from his funeral a few days earlier. Bernard's widow, Doris, has filed a wrongful death suit.

The widow of a man shot dead last year during a confrontation with Eutawville’s former police chief has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the town, its police department and its ex-top cop.

Orangeburg lawyer Carl B. Grant filed the suit late Monday on behalf of Doris Bailey, wife of Bernard Bailey, who died in the May 2, 2011 shooting in the parking lot of Town Hall.

“It has been 17 months since this most tragic incident occurred,” Grant said in a written statement. “It is time that this case is brought to court so that the thirst for the truth can be quenched, and the hunger for justice can be satisfied.”

Town officials and former Police Chief Rick Combs could not immediately be reached for comment this morning.

Friends have said the 54-year-old father of five was apparently shot during a dispute with Combs over a traffic ticket issued to one of Bailey’s daughters. Officials, however, have refused to discuss the case.

Eutawville officials named a new police chief in November, but they and law enforcement authorities have said next to nothing about how the shooting transpired or what prompted the decision to use deadly force. Bailey, a former correctional officer, was shot three times.

The State Law Enforcement Division has investigated the incident and the case is now being examined by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Justice Department for possible criminal and civil rights violations. Authorities, however, have provided no timetable for a ruling on those issues.

The lengthy delay has frustrated residents of this small, rural community. Residents gathered at a community forum in Holly Hill last week and discussed writing a letter to state, county and federal authorities demanding answers in the case. They also talked about possibly marching on the county seat.

The Rev. Tom Hendrickson, rector of the Historic Church of the Epiphany in Eutawville, said the dearth of information about the case has led to “a huge level of frustration among the people who live here.”

“What I’m saying is, let’s have some information,” he said. “How can someone walk up to another man, shoot him three times and have the penalty be that he loses his job? I don’t understand that. There has to be a story that goes along with that.”

Check back for more information on this story as it becomes available.