COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – The Latest on a South Carolina grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer (all times local):
The chief of a small South Carolina police department says he hasn’t decided if one of his officers should face internal discipline in a 2016 shooting that a grand jury examined without issuing any charges.
Forest Acres Police Chief Gene Sealy said Wednesday he hasn’t seen the full state police investigation file into officer Robert Cooper’s shooting and wants to review that information first.
A grand jury voted not to charge Cooper with attempted murder last week after prosecutors presented the case to them.
A video shows Cooper stand in front of a car trying to drive away in May 2016 and fire seven shots as the vehicle passes by him, wounding a 17-year-old. The car later turned out to be stolen.
Sealey says Cooper has been on administrative leave and not on patrol since the shooting.
A South Carolina police department still employs an officer who shot and wounded a driver last year in a case that last week went before a grand jury but resulted in no indictment.
Records from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy obtained by The Associated Press say Robert Cooper was hired by the Forest Acres Police Department in July 2010 and has worked there ever since.
Prosecutors asked a grand jury to charge Cooper with attempted murder for shooting seven times and wounding a 17-year-old who was driving away last May after the officer tried to question him. But the grand jury refused last week.
Forest Acres Police Chief Gene Sealy has not returned a phone call and email from the AP.
In the months after the shooting, records show Cooper took nine training classes, including “De-Escalation: Surviving Verbal Conflict.”
A South Carolina prosecutor who failed last week to get a grand jury to charge a police officer with attempted murder in a 2016 shooting has unsuccessfully sought an indictment against an officer on a similar charge before.
A Richland County grand jury refused to indict Forest Acres police officer Robert Cooper after Solicitor Dan Johnson decided to present the case.
In 2014, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott asked Johnson to prosecute one of his deputies, Kirk Willis, for firing a shot at a car that was already a few hundred feet distant and driving away.
The grand jury refused an attempt murder indictment in that case as well.
One defense attorney estimates that indictments fail in less than 1 percent of all South Carolina cases.
Prosecutors in the state rarely present police shootings to grand juries.
A grand jury has refused to bring an attempted murder charge against a South Carolina police officer who stepped in front of a teen’s car and then fired seven shots at the vehicle as it drove away.
Court records show Solicitor Dan Johnson sought the indictment last week. The document doesn’t say why authorities thought Forest Acres police officer Robert Cooper should be charged in the 2016 shooting.
A video showed Cooper stepping in front of the car as 17-year-old Antwon Gallmon attempted to turn around and drive off in the Columbia suburb.
State police training tells officers not to step in front of a vehicle or fire after it has moved past.
Prosecutors and Forest Acres police didn’t return phone calls Wednesday.
Gallmon was wounded and is suing police.
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