Columbia, SC – A South Carolina prosecutor announced on Tuesday that the Richland County deputies who fatally shot a man charging at them with a broken piece of wood were justified in their actions and will not face charges.
Deputies responded to a home near Columbia on March 19 after somebody called 911 and said Irvin Moorer Charley was mentally disturbed and attacking his mother, WBTW reported.
Bodycam videos showed that when deputies arrived, the mother was standing outside the home.
She told them that Charley had hit her in the headed and was destroying property inside her home.
“That’s my son, you better get him…” the woman told the deputies as they approached, the video showed.
“He done pulled a knife, I mean a scissor,” a man identified as Charley’s brother said.
“That mother–ker done hit me in the head and everything,” the mother told the deputies.
Richland County Deputy John Anderson offered to call EMS for the woman and she told them she didn’t know what she needed but to get her son out of her house, the bodycam video showed.
The video showed Charley’s brother got a chair and took a seat like a spectator by the front door.
“Don’t shoot him though,” he told deputies. “He got a knife, he don’t got no gun.”
Deputy Anderson ordered the brother to back away.
“Get out of my line of sight,” the deputy commanded in the video.
Then the screen door of the house slammed open and the suspect came out carrying a sharp wooden stake in his right hand.
“Drop the weapon! Drop the weapon! Drop the weapon now!” Deputy Anderson told Charley. “Get on the fucking ground.”
But Charley acted as though he hadn’t heard the commands and began to walk slowly toward the deputy with the weapon still in his hand, bodycam video showed.
Charley’s mother tried to get close to her son and even seemed to step between him and the deputy for a moment before the second deputy on the scene ordered her to step away.
The suspect continued walking toward the deputy, who walked backwards away from the approaching armed man as he repeatedly yelled at him to drop the weapon, the video showed.
Charley stopped and backed up for a moment, as if considering his options, then he began walking toward Deputy Anderson again with the weapon still in his hand.
A second deputy who had arrived on the scene – Richland County Sheriff’s Deputy Zachary Hentz – deployed a Taser at Charley, but the less-lethal device appeared to have no effect on the suspect, the video showed.
Charley turned toward the deputy who Tased him and then went after him, raising his hand with the wooden stake in it toward Deputy Hentz as he charged.
Deputy Hentz opened fire with his duty weapon while back-peddling away from the enraged suspect and Charley was fatally shot, WBTW reported.
The sheriff’s department said Deputy Hentz fired his gun seven times at Charley.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott defended his deputies’ actions, WBTW reported.
“We can’t expect these deputies to go out here and be killed,” Sheriff Lott said. “They have to protect themselves. And that’s what this deputy did yesterday. He protected himself.”
Authorities initially only released a short bodycam clip that showed the armed suspect approaching Deputy Anderson, WBTW reported.
But after Charley’s family implied the Richland County Sheriff’s Office was engaging in a coverup, officials released the bodycam and dashcam videos in their entirety.
The family said it was angry that the deputy-involved shooting had been investigated by the same agency that shot Charley, WBTW reported.
Sheriff Lott defended his investigators and said they had the expertise and temperament to fairly investigate deputies from the own agency.
The sheriff’s investigation was given to the prosecutor’s office for review when it was completed, WBTW reported.
5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office Solicitor Byron Gipson said he also had two use-of-force experts from the University of South Carolina review the evidence.
On June 14, he announced that he had decided not to charge either of the deputies involved in the incident, WBTW reported.
“The use of force was applied in good faith based upon the perceptions of a reasonably trained officer and the objectively reasonable facts the officer had at the time of the incident,” Gipson said.