White Police Chief Indicted In Death Of Unarmed Black Man
[su_right_ad]Richard J. Combs, a white former South Carolina police chief, will stand trial following the indictment by a grand jury.
Combs, the former chief of the Eutawville, S.C., police, had previously been charged with official misconduct in the death of the man, Bernard Bailey, and was scheduled to stand trial on Dec. 8 in Orangeburg County. The grand jury signed the murder indictment on Wednesday, and the charge was made public Thursday morning…
The shooting, outside Eutawville’s Town Hall, took place after Mr. Combs tried to detain Mr. Bailey because of an outstanding arrest warrant. Mr. Bailey had visited the Town Hall in reference to a traffic ticket his daughter had received.
During a November hearing, a partial video of which was published online by the local newspaper, The Times and Democrat, Mr. Combs testified that he fired three shots during a struggle at Mr. Bailey’s vehicle. The former chief said that he had become “stuck” in the vehicle as he fought with Mr. Bailey, whom he described as aggressive and uncooperative.
But Solicitor David M. Pascoe Jr. questioned portions of Mr. Combs’s account.
“You’re telling the court,” Mr. Pascoe said as he sat on the floor in the midst of a re-enactment of the shooting, “that he’s coming toward you, after you shot him two times at point-blank range with a .40-caliber pistol in the chest?”
“Yes, sir,” Mr. Combs replied.
Judge Edgar W. Dickson of the Circuit Court, who on Nov. 25 rejected Mr. Combs’s plan to invoke South Carolina’s Stand Your Ground law, also expressed misgivings about the former chief’s conduct.
“In a situation such as this, where the arrestee poses no threat to the public, there are other means of executing an arrest warrant if initial service is unsuccessful,” Judge Dickson wrote in an order last month.
The judge added: “There was no need for Mr. Combs to act as he did on May 2, 2011, when Mr. Bailey refused service, as Mr. Combs expected would happen. Mr. Combs should have allowed Mr. Bailey to leave and enlisted the assistance of other officers or serve the warrant at court as he originally planned.”