Authorities released dash cam video this week showing Sean Groubert, a decorated South Carolina highway patrolman shooting Levar Jones in the parking lot of a gas station on September 4th.  Groubert had just asked for Jones’ driver’s license.  When Jones reached into his car to retrieve it, Groubert opened fire on him.  As Jones was hit, he asked the officer why he shot him?  He answered that Jones moved too quickly, “You dove head-first back into your car.”  Jones, 35, survived and Groubert is now charged with aggravated assault and battery.  He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

“The force administered in this case was unwarranted, inconsistent with how our troopers are trained, and clearly in violation of department policies,” South Carolina Public Safety Director Leroy Smith said, “I believe this case was an isolated incident in which Mr. Groubert reacted to a perceived threat where there was none.”

According to media reports, Groubert has only discharged his weapon twice as a police officer.  The first time he received praise.  Groubert received the department’s medal of valor when he and another trooper shot and injured a suspect who had shot at them in 2012.  Groubert stopped a vehicle that had passed him at a high rate of speed.  The driver took off without permission during the traffic stop and Groubert pursued him.  Another trooper joined the pursuit.  The driver eventually stopped at a bank and opened fire on both officers.  Groubert and the other officer returned fire, injuring the suspect.  The suspect was convicted of attempted murder in 2013.

Groubert, 31, had stopped Jones in the Circle K parking lot for an alleged seatbelt violation.  The video clearly shows Groubert approach Jones’ car as Jones exits his vehicle.  Groubert asked Jones for his driver’s license at which point he pivots towards his vehicle (his door was still open) and leans inside.  Groubert comes into view with his gun drawn and yells, “Get out of the car!” before firing at least 4 shots.  Jones steps away from the vehicle with his hands up.

“I just got my license! You said get my license!” Jones said.
Groubert tells Jones to put his hands behind his back. Jones replies, “What did I do, sir?”
Groubert asks Jones if he is hit and Jones replies, “I think so.  I can’t feel my leg…”
Then Jones asks, “Why did you shoot me?”

That’s when Groubert replied that Jones “dove” into his car.  The video and Groubert’s reasoning are not good enough for prosecutors.  Jones was unarmed when he was shot in the hip.

The department fired Groubert saying that the department’s policy on using force says that officers can only use “the level…necessary to accomplish lawful objectives.  That protocol was not followed in this case…this incident occurred in broad daylight.  Mr. Groubert had a clear and unobstructed view…[The shooting] deviates from…standards…”

Groubert joined the highway patrol in 2005.


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