South Carolina Cop Allegedly Shoots 68-Year-Old Man For Driving Into His Driveway

Human Rights

A 68-year-old man was shot and killed in his driveway by a South Carolina police officer after leading him on a low-speed chase, the Associated Press reports.

Back in February, Ernest Satterwhite was pursued for nine miles by North Augusta Public Safety Officer Justin Craven, who drove beyond city boundaries and into Edgefield County. It is unclear why the officer pursued Satterwhite, but what is known is that Craven shot Satterwhite through the driver's side of his door. A prosecutor charged Craven with voluntary manslaughter, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. A grand jury, however, recently indicted the officer on the lesser charge of a misdemeanor.

"It diminishes the nature of the violation — of the death," said state Rep. Joe Neal. "This man's life is only worth a misdemeanor?"

Few details have been released about the case and Craven, who is on paid leave, has not been made available for interviews. South Carolina's State Law Enforcement Division denied to release information about Craven's case to the Associated Press after the news organization filed a Freedom of Information Act request.

Edgefield County officers who joined the chase said that Craven ran up to Satterwhite's car and fired into the driver-side door after telling other officers that Satterwhite tried to grab his gun.

Satterwhite's family is disputing the claim in a lawsuit filed against the North Augusta Department of Public Safety, Edgefield County and its sheriff's office. The suit claims that Craven refused to obey Edgefield deputies' orders to cease his chase of Satterwhite after entering their jurisdiction. The suit also claims that Satterwhite did not try to grab the officer's gun when he discharged his weapon five times. Four of the bullets hit Satterwhite—two in the chest. Satterwhite was pulled out of his vehicle onto the ground, restrained and left unattended until paramedics arrived.

The family's attorney hopes to force authorities to release any video or other evidence in the case.

South Carolina is on track to break its previous year's number of cop-related shootings. In 2013, 42 people were shot by cops. This year, 35 have been shot; 16 of whom died.

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