A few weeks ago in South Carolina a police officer pulled a man over for not wearing a seatbelt – then the officer shot him.
It was a white officer shooting an unarmed black man – but the story didn’t get much media coverage. The reason is likely because the state acted swiftly to uncover the truth and mete out justice.
South Carolina state trooper Sean Groubert pulled over 35 year-old Levar Jones for not wearing his seat belt. Jones had been exiting his vehicle to enter a convenience store when the officer asked to see his license.
Jones, wanting to obey the officer quickly moved back to his truck to get his license… which is when all hell broke loose.
Officer Groubert opened fire as Jones moved back to the truck – discharging his gun 3 times and hitting Jones with at least one of those shots.
(A warning – the video is unedited and intense, it may not be suitable for all eyes. The confrontation begins at about 38 seconds in…)
It seems that almost immediately after the shooting, Officer Groubert realizes he’s made a HUGE mistake. The victim, Mr. Jones, is completely baffled by what has just occurred, and can only ask why he had been shot over and over. Amazingly, though probably because of the shock, Jones never even gets indignant with Officer Groubert. He simply asks why multiple times and tries to explain that he was just getting his license like the officer had asked him to do.
At this point, Groubert is in big trouble – but he digs himself into a hole with what happens in the aftermath of this shooting.
When the authorities begin investigating, one of the first things they did was take Officer Groubert’s statement. In his statement he apparently implied that Mr. Jones was acting aggressively, giving the officer reason for concern. However, once authorities viewed this dashcam footage they learned all they needed to know about what happened. As you can clearly see, from start to finish, Jones never acts aggressively or even rudely.
So now, the officer has shot a man and lied about what happened.
In South Carolina justice moves swiftly. Groubert was fired a couple of weeks later and now he’s been arrested and charged with felony assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. The charges came after authorities realized that Groubert had lied to them about how the event unfolded.
Local leaders in the African-American community are happy that the state has moved swiftly to bring justice and has seemingly acted in a fair and upright manner in the case. Stories like this, while devastating for those involved, can give some measure of confidence to onlookers about our justice system.
But this case does beg the question – if there had been no dashcam (like in Ferguson, Missouri in the Michael Brown shooting) what might have happened? Would the authorities have believed Officer Groubert over Mr. Jones? Or would justice eventually have been done there as well?
A case like this seems to be another perfect example of why every police car should be equipped with a dashcam and every officer should wear a camera as well. Police cameras would simply be another layer of protection for both the officers and the people they deal with.
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