A white police chief working in the small South Carolina town of Eutawville was charged with murder Wednesday for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in 2011.
Bernard Bailey, the 54-year-old victim, was shot twice in the chest by Richard Combs after a scuffle that occurred when Bailey came to Town Hall to argue about his daughter’s broken tail light ticket.
Combs tried to arrest Bailey on an obstruction of justice charge, prosecutors said. Bailey marched back outside to his truck, and Combs tried to get inside. The two briefly fought, and then the police chief shot Bailey twice in his pickup.
Combs said at an earlier hearing that he was tangled in Bailey’s steering wheel as he tried to shut off the ignition and feared for his life if Bailey drove away. But prosecutors said Combs was the aggressor, following Bailey as he tried to get away.
The Orangeburg County grand jury elected to indict Combs the same day a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo for strangling an unarmed Eric Garner to death in July 2014.
State investigators began reviewing the shooting in March 2013 after a U.S. Justice Department investigation determined Combs did not violate Bailey’s civil rights. In August 2013, state prosecutors charged Combs with misconduct in office, which carries a maximum of 10 years in prison.
If convicted of murder, Combs could spend 30 years to life in prison.
SOURCE: NBC | PHOTO CREDIT: Orangeburg County Detention Center