Authorities are investigating the still-hazy circumstances surrounding the shooting of a black homeowner by a white sheriff’s deputy, and planned to meet with community leaders Friday to discuss what happened.
Two Charleston County Sheriff’s deputies encountered the homeowner at the rear of his mobile home in Hollywood, South Carolina, on Thursday as they were responding to a 911 call about a home invasion, Charleston County Sheriff’s Maj. Eric Watson said.
The man was either leaving or standing at the back door of the house and was armed. One of the two deputies shot him after he refused to drop his gun, Watson said.
In the ambulance, the man told police he had exchanged gunfire with two suspects who fled the home on bicycles. By Thursday afternoon, police had arrested one of them, identified as Thomas Zachary Brown, 22. Brown was charged with first-degree burglary and attempted murder in connection with the home invasion. Watson said as far as he knew, Brown had not been injured.
Online court records did not indicate whether Brown had an attorney, and an operator at the sheriff’s office said that information was not available.
The homeowner underwent surgery for a neck wound, but his condition early Friday was not known.
Watson said the identities of the deputy and the homeowner would be released Friday, as would copies of a dashboard camera video. He said the deputies were not equipped with body cameras. The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the shooting and the sheriff’s office will investigate the home invasion, Watson said.
Watson also said officials would meet with community leaders Friday to discuss the shooting, the second in recent months involving law enforcement in Charleston County.
On April 4, a white North Charleston Police officer shot and killed a black man who he said fought with him over the officer’s stun gun.
Officer Michael Slager claimed he killed Walter Scott in self-defense. But a bystander’s cellphone video showed him firing eight shots at Scott’s back as he ran away. Slager has been charged with murder.
Both shootings come amid nationwide calls for police reform following several high-profile deaths of black men at the hands of law enforcement over the past year. Most recently, the city of Baltimore erupted in riots last month after a black man died of a spinal injury he received while in police custody.
Police released two 911 tapes connected to Thursday’s shooting. On one, an exasperated male caller tells police, “Someone was trying to break into my house. Please come. … It’s an emergency and they have guns. Please come!”
The caller says the suspects are banging on his windows and he is hiding in a laundry room. When asked, the caller tells the operator to send deputies to both the front and the back door of the home.
In a second 911 call, a woman asks sheriff’s deputies to come to an address that appears to be at a nearby house. The caller says she saw two people on bicycles riding through her property and that something happened behind her house.
On police radio calls released Thursday, there is confusion about the identity of the man who was shot.
“It’s unknown if he’s part of the shooters or the victim,” an officer can be heard saying after an ambulance is called to treat a man with a gunshot wound. Later, an officer asks a dispatcher to summon the State Law Enforcement Division, which investigates shootings by police officers.
The shooting happened in the rural community of Hollywood, about 15 miles west of Charleston, in a subdivision of mobile homes and brick ranch homes.
Source: The AP
Associated Press writer Tom Foreman Jr. in Charlotte, North Carolina, contributed to this report.