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State authorities release video of fatal police shooting in Georgetown County

video still

Video from a dashboard camera shows then- Hemingway officer Cassandra Dollard point her gun at Robert Langley Jr. following a high-speed pursuit on Feb. 6, 2022. Provided

COLUMBIA — State authorities released dashboard camera video that shows former Hemingway police officer Cassandra Dollard slipped and fell before fatally shooting a motorist last month in rural Georgetown County. 

The State Law Enforcement Division released the footage March 21 of Robert Langley Jr.'s killing after The Post and Courier filed a request for it under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act.

Langley's family has said they wanted the video released to the public. 

Dollard is charged with voluntary manslaughter on allegations she unlawfully shot the 46-year-old man after a high-speed chase early Feb. 6. 

The chase began at 1:24 a.m. in downtown Hemingway and ended after Langley crashed his car into a ditch at Schoolhouse and Choppee roads, the video shows. 

Warning: The following video contains gun violence and may not be appropriate for all viewers. Video from a dashboard camera recorded the shooting of Robert Langley Jr. by Hemingway officer Cassandra Dollard following a high-speed pursuit on Feb. 6, 2022.

Blaring police sirens drowned out much of what Dollard tells Langley after the crash, but at least one command is audible from the video. Dollard orders Langley to show her his hands.

Langley can be seen briefly complying with the order, sticking his hands out of the driver's-side window of the car, before pulling them back inside the vehicle. 

Dollard approached Langley's vehicle from the passenger side but slipped on grass and fell into a seated position. Langley stepped out of the vehicle's passenger-side door before Dollard fired a single shot from close range, causing him to collapse onto the ground, the video shows. 

The shooting happened about seven minutes after the start of the pursuit. 

Cassandra Dollard

Cassandra Dollard. Georgetown County Sheriff's Office/Provided

Dollard unsteadily gets back to her feet and shouts, "Let me see your hands" before retreating back to her squad car to report the shooting to dispatch, the video shows. 

Thirty seconds later, Dollard is again standing over Langley, ordering him to "be still" and asking what is in his hand. 

"Be still, sir," she said. "I've got EMS coming." 

Langley can't be heard responding to the commands. 

Dollard began CPR on Langley about three minutes after the shooting, the video shows. Langley can be heard rasping and gurgling through labored breaths as Dollard pressed on his chest. 

"Take a breath for me," Dollard repeatedly said.

The video showed other law enforcement officers arrived on the scene at 1:41 a.m. An ambulance arrived by 1:46 a.m., about 15 minutes after Langley was shot. 

Bakari Sellers, an attorney for Langley's family, said they would release a full statement March 22, but he said the video showed there was a "cascade of poor decisions" made by Dollard that night.

"She violated multiple law enforcement procedures," Sellers said. "It's one of the worst shoots I've seen — absolutely no justification. She was unprepared, ill-trained and should not have been on the road that night. Robert Langley should be alive today." 

CPR after shooting

Video from a dashboard camera shows then- Hemingway officer Cassandra Dollard perform chest compressions on Robert Langley Jr. after the shooting on Feb. 6, 2022. Provided

The attorney said Langley had four or five dollar-bills in his hand when he was shot, which were the items Dollard was asking about in the video.

Dollard, 52, was taken into custody Feb. 9 on the manslaughter charge after an investigation conducted by SLED. She was released from jail the following day on $150,000 bail.

The charge was filed in the 15th Judicial Circuit, which represents Georgetown County. 

Dollard wrote in an incident report she was conducting traffic enforcement between 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. Feb. 6 when she said saw Langley ignore a stop sign while driving in downtown Hemingway.

Dollard said she attempted to stop Langley’s vehicle, but the man sped off, leading to a high-speed pursuit prosecutors say exceeded speeds of 100 mph and continued into Georgetown County, outside the officer’s jurisdiction.

Dollard’s account of the shooting was redacted in her incident report, but authorities said the policewoman shot Langley once in the chest as he attempted to exit the car.

The Post and Courier requested Feb. 9 through FOIA that SLED provide the footage, as well as other records related to the shooting. 

SLED denied the request Feb. 22, claiming the records were exempt from public records law, but the exemptions would continue to be evaluated. The records would be provided “as the exemptions cease to apply.”

Different rules apply to the disclosure of dashboard camera footage than other public records.

State law requires law enforcement agencies to seek approval from a circuit judge to withhold dashboard camera footage when an officer is involved in “death, injury, property damage, or the use of deadly force.”

The record can be withheld from release if the judge finds there is “clear and convincing evidence” that the video is exempt, and that exemption outweighs the public’s right to know. 

SLED did not petition to stop release of the dashboard camera footage.

Dollard is believed to be the first South Carolina law enforcement officer arrested in the shooting death of a suspect since North Charleston officer Michael Slager killed motorist Walter Scott in 2015. Slager was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to civil rights charges. The state criminal case resulted in a hung jury.

Dollard was previously fired from two law enforcement agencies — State Transport Police and Johnsonville Police Department — for various performance-related issues, according to state records. 

Dollard's was fired from the Transport Police in 2014 after she told superiors she fired her service weapon at two dogs she claimed were chasing her during a morning run in Jamestown. The officer waited nearly six hours before she reported the shooting to her supervisor, according to court records from a federal discrimination lawsuit Dollard filed in 2017. 

She was employed by Hemingway police for about five months before Langley's shooting, records state. 

She was fired days after the shooting. 

Hemingway police Chief Alex Edwards did not respond to a request for comment. 

Reach Steve Garrison at 843-607-1052. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT.