SPARTANBURG — Family members of a relative killed by law enforcement who they say knew he was schizophrenic questioned why officers went to their home to serve arrest warrants in what escalated into a deadly standoff.
The family of 39-year-old Darius Holcomb gathered outside the agency's headquarters Feb. 6 to provide more details about the afternoon a Spartanburg County Sheriff's Deputy shot and killed him.
Holcomb’s sister, Taja Holcomb, described her brother as a kind man who kept to himself. He had schizophrenia, which she said law enforcement was aware of.
“He kind of just wanted to stay to himself, just listen to his music, and pretty much just do anything you ask him … just an all-around kind person,” she said.
Officers arrived at Darius Holcomb’s mother’s home that afternoon to arrest him on unspecified warrants.
Taja Holcomb said it was because he was considered a sex offender. The sheriff's office has not said what the warrants were for, but court records show he had multiple charges in 2022 for failure to register as a sex offender.
Taja Holcomb said authorities had deemed him a sex offender based on a kidnapping charge.
“They knew — the sheriff’s office knew, the sex offender’s office knew — that it had nothing to do with any sexual act," she said. "But instead, they kept this over his head.”
In response to questions by The Post and Courier, sheriff's spokesman Lt. Kevin Bobo said the agency "will not be answering any questions" nor would it release any video footage as the family has requested so long as a SLED investigation into the shooting remains active.
Darius Holcomb was released from prison in 2019 following an 18-year sentence from a 2002 case. He was convicted on three kidnapping charges, an armed robbery and other charges.
There are no sex crimes charges against Darius Holcomb listed in Spartanburg County general sessions court.
In a Feb. 2 statement from agency spokesperson Corporal John Burgess, the sheriff’s office claimed Holcomb threatened officers with a knife when they arrived to arrest him, and a Feb. 3 news release from the State Law Enforcement Division said he threatened them with a “sharp object.”
He barricaded himself in a bedroom, and officers removed his family from the home. His mother and sister said they were at one point handcuffed by officers.
Taja Holcomb and her and Darius Holcomb’s mother, Terria Holcomb, said they weren’t shown warrants until about 45 minutes after law enforcement arrived and were told they were interfering with the officers.
Taja Holcomb said law enforcement wouldn’t let them speak with him to deescalate the situation, despite knowing he had schizophrenia. She called mental health professionals on the phone, but they said they couldn’t do anything.
With him barricaded, a standoff ensued and a sheriff's office SWAT unit arrived. Law enforcement released tear gas into the home, and eventually broke down a door to enter and sent a police dog into the bedroom.
According to the SLED news release, Holcomb “began to attack the dog with a sharp object ,” while the sheriff's office said Holcomb “began stabbing” the dog.
The family disputed claims that Holcomb attacked the dog. They said multiple neighbors said they witnessed a dog leave the residence and stay outside for hours, despite claims it had been stabbed.
The family repeatedly called for the sheriff’s office to release the body and dashboard camera footage from the incident.
The deadly shooting comes as the sheriff's office has come under heightened scrutiny following deaths at the Spartanburg County Detention Center, which it runs. Four people have died there since Oct. 3, 2022.